Vaccination

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Vaccination is the administration of antigenic material (a vaccine) to produce immunity to a disease. Vaccines can prevent or ameliorate the effects of infection by many pathogens. There is strong evidence for the efficacy of many vaccines, such as the influenza vaccine,[1] the HPV vaccine[2] and the chicken pox vaccine[3] among others. Vaccination is generally considered to be the most effective and cost-effective method of preventing infectious diseases. The material administered can either be live but weakened forms of pathogens (bacteria or viruses), killed or inactivated forms of these pathogens, or purified material such as proteins. Smallpox was the first disease people tried to prevent by purposely inoculating themselves with other types of infections; smallpox inoculation was started in China or India before 200 BCE.[4] In 1718, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu reported that the Turks had a habit of deliberately inoculating themselves with fluid taken from mild cases of smallpox, and that she had inoculated her own children.[5] Before 1796 when British physician Edward Jenner tested the possibility of using the cowpox vaccine as an immunization for smallpox in humans for the first time, at least six people had done the same several years earlier: a person whose identity is unknown, England, (about 1771); a Mrs. Sevel, Germany (about 1772); a Mr. Jensen, Germany (about 1770); Benjamin Jesty, England, in 1774; a Mrs. Rendall, England (about 1782); and Peter Plett, Germany, in 1791.[6]

The word vaccination was first used by Edward Jenner in 1796. Louis Pasteur furthered the concept through his pioneering work in microbiology. Vaccination (Latin: vacca—cow) is so named because the first vaccine was derived from a virus affecting cows—the relatively benign cowpox virus—which provides a degree of immunity to smallpox, a contagious and deadly disease. In common speech, 'vaccination' and 'immunization' generally have the same colloquial meaning. This distinguishes it from inoculation which uses unweakened live pathogens, although in common usage either is used to refer to an immunization. The word "vaccination" was originally used specifically to describe the injection of smallpox vaccine.[4][6]

Vaccination efforts have been met with some controversy since their inception, on scientific, ethical, political, medical safety, religious, and other grounds. In rare cases, vaccinations can injure people and, in the United States, they may receive compensation for those injuries under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Early success and compulsion brought widespread acceptance, and mass vaccination campaigns were undertaken which are credited with greatly reducing the incidence of many diseases in numerous geographic regions.

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