Basic principles of immunization


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Resources on the world wide web:

Basic principles of immunization

Immunization occurs when a specific resistance to an infectious disease is induced by the administration of a vaccine. Immunization can be active or passive. Active immunization involves the stimulation of an individual’s immune system to produce antibodies. This can be achieved by the administration of:

• live attenuated organisms: the organism’s pathogenicity is reduced by sequential subculturing (for example, oral poliomyelitis, BCG, yellow fever, measles, mumps, rubella);

• inactivated organisms: the organisms have been inactivated by chemical means (for example, rabies, Japanese B encephalitis, hepatitis A);

• toxoid: the inactivated products of an organism (for example, diphtheria, tetanus);

• components of organisms: such as capsular polysaccharides (for example, meningococcal, pneumococcal); and

• genetically engineered viral products (for example, hepatitis B).

Passive immunization does not induce an antibody response; rather it involves the direct transfer of antibodies by the administration of immunoglobulin derived from blood donations. Immunity is gained immediately but is short-lived. Sometimes normal pooled immunoglobulin contains sufficient antibodies to be protective (e.g. hepatitis A) but specific immunoglobulin may need to be prepared by taking blood from actively immunized donors (e.g. hepatitis B and rabies)