Although people usually think in terms of live vs inactivated vaccines, there are actually many other types of vaccines, including those made up of subunits of a virus or bacterial antigen, toxoid vaccines, conjugate vaccines, DNA vaccines, and recombinant vector vaccines.
Unlike those other vaccine types, live vaccines actually include a weakened version of a virus or bacteria.
These live vaccines include:
- oral polio vaccine (OPV)
- varicella (chickenpox)
- bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG)
- oral typhoid vaccine
- intranasal flu vaccine
- yellow fever
- Zostavax shingles vaccine
- adenovirus vaccine (military only)
Some, including OPV and BCG aren’t available in the United States.
Risks and Benefits of Live Vaccines
“The immune response to a live attenuated vaccine is virtually identical to that produced by a natural infection. The immune system does not differentiate between an infection with a weakened vaccine virus and an infection with a wild virus. Live attenuated vaccines produce immunity in most recipients with one dose, except those administered orally.”The Pink Book: Course Textbook – 13th Edition (2015)
There are some risks though, especially to anyone with immune system problems and if the weakened virus in the vaccine reverts to a more virulent form, as we sometimes see with OPV.
And you can’t necessarily make a live vaccine for every disease.
More on Live Vaccines
- How Are Vaccines Really Made?
- How Much Shedding Would a Vaccine Shed…
- Can I Get Rotavirus from My Recently Vaccinated Baby?
- Does the FluMist Vaccine Shed?
- Myths About the Yellow Fever Vaccine
- Rash After the MMR – Is This Normal?
- What Is the Morbidity/Mortality Rate of the Polio Vaccine vs the Wild Virus?
- CDC – Types of Vaccines
- CDC – The Pink Book: Course Textbook – 13th Edition (2015)
- Different Types of Vaccines
- Live , Attenuated Vaccines
- Vaccine Shedding: Should You Really Be Concerned?
- Ask the Experts: Chickenpox Vaccine
- Ask the Experts: MMR
- Ask the Experts: Rotavirus Vaccines
- CDC – Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine (The Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine
- Ask the Experts: Shingles Vaccine
- WHO – Oral polio vaccine (OPV)
- Vaccine Precautions and Contraindications
- Immunization of Immunocompromised Persons
- Vaccination During Cancer Treatment
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