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Issue 17 Out Now

What is a Vaccine: The Breakdown

Vaccines have a long history of being a great benefit to the world, helping cure diseases and viruses. Even with their long history, vaccines are perplexing to those who don’t know their origins, what they do, and how they work.

By definition vaccines “are biological agents that elicit an immune response to a specific antigen derived from an infectious disease-causing pathogen” (Czochor &Turchick 2014).

A part of the virus is taken to allow the body to protect itself. A strain from the virus is collected, the virus is then grown repeatedly passing through cell cultures (a process which cells are grown under controlled conditions), the weakened strain of the virus is collected, afterward, the live but weakened virus is injected, and finally the immune response kicks in.

It’s important to note that the live virus is designed to produce an infection without obtaining symptoms. The virus will generate the immune response without illness and without the ability to pass it on.

The virus will go under purification to weaken it, which happens through chromatography (a method of separating materials) and ultrafiltration (a pressure-driven barrier suspending viruses and bacteria). To help trigger the response from the weakened virus an adjuvant (a substance added to vaccines to boost immune response and longer-lasting immunity).

Upon entering your body, vaccines mimic diseases and stimulate the immune system to trigger a response. The immune system protects your body from pathogens, which are microorganisms that can cause disease. Acting as an imposter the vaccine will emulate the triggers on the pathogen and stimulate the immune response to protect itself.

Your immune system will have a primary response to pathogens, where the immune system will practice on dead and weak pathogens. If the pathogen returns in full strength, the immune system responds with a quick and specific defense. And this response is called the secondary response which increases memory of how to kill pathogens.

Vaccines can be a potent line of defense. Vaccines can help prevent sever illness responses and condition your immune system learn to kill diseases.


CDC. “Basics of Vaccines.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14 Mar. 2012,

Czochor, Jennifer, and Audrey Turchick. “Introduction. Vaccines.” The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, YJBM, 12 Dec. 2014,

FX, Orpheus. “Realistic 3D Illustration of COVID-19 Vaccine. Corona Virus SARS CoV 2, 2019 NCoV Virus Destruction. A Vaccin against Coronavirus Disease 2019. Breakthrough in the Creating of a COVID-19 Vaccine.” Realistic 3d Illustration Covid19 Vaccine Corona Stock Illustration 1703465413, Shutter Stock,

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