The production of the Influenza vaccine involves three stages. First, an influenza virus that has a different genome from the circulating influenza virus is identified (Rappuoli and Giudice, 2010, p.63). After identification, it is adapted for use in vaccines by growing it together with another virus strain to form a hybrid.
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The hybrid contains the outer components of the influenza virus and inner components of the other virus strain. Secondly, the influenza virus is grown in hen’s eggs (Rappuoli and Giudice, 2010, p.63). Eggs are preferred because of their availability and nutritive value. Thirdly, the virus is purified to make it safe. Fourthly, the virus is killed completely using toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde.
The vaccine can include either live or killed influenza viruses. For example, FluMist is an influenza vaccine that contains weakened influenza viruses, and is administered as a nasal spray (Rappuoli and Giudice, 2010, p.65).
The vaccine protects vaccinated people against influenza infection, and is recommended for people between the ages of 2 and 49. Most influenza vaccines that are administered through injections contain killed influenza viruses. Other vaccines are administered into the skin instead of the muscles, and contain live viruses.
New vaccines are produced every year because the influenza virus is always mutating, thus forming new strains (Rappuoli and Giudice, 2010, p.66). The eight RNA strands that make up the genetic material of the virus undergo continuous mutations through the processes of antigenic drift and antigenic shift (Rappuoli and Giudice, 2010, p.67). These processes cause gradual evolution of the virus.
Another reason for production of vaccines every year is due to the steady weakening of antibodies. Antibodies produced against the virus by the host’s body weaken over time and become unable to eliminate the virus.
New vaccines have to be produced to eradicate the viruses that are continually changing their genomes through mutations. If new vaccines were not produced, disease control would be difficult because of the evolving nature of viruses.
Vaccines play an important role in disease prevention. First, they augment the body’s immune system, thus helping it resist diseases effectively (Naff, 2004, p.34). When a vaccine is injected into the body, the body responds by producing antibodies against the antigens contained in the vaccine.
If the actual disease appears after a person has been vaccinated, the antibodies produced when that person got vaccinated eradicate the disease. Secondly, vaccines prevent the prevalence of diseases in the population (Naff, 2004, p.34). Some diseases have been eradicated completely using vaccines.
These diseases include Measles and Polio. Vaccines help keep these diseases away from people, and help protect non-vaccinated people from contracting them because many diseases are contracted through person-to-person infection.
The possible effects of not being vaccinated for influenza and other diseases include poor health, reduced productivity and a high mortality rate. When people fail to get vaccinated, they contract diseases that were eradicated by the use of vaccines (Cockey, 2010, par5).
For example, a drop in immunization rates in the United Kingdom against whooping cough led to more than 100,000 people contracting the disease and 36 deaths (Cockey, 2010, par6).
There is a high risk of suffering permanent disabilities if people contract diseases that have been eliminated by vaccines. For example, if Polio and Measles emerge because of failure to vaccinate, they could have devastating consequences on victims.
Cockey, C. (2010). Consequences of Not Vaccinating. Retrieved from https://www.health4mom.org/vaccinations/
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Naff, C. (2004). Vaccines. New York: Greenhaven Press.
Rappuoli, R., and Giudice, G. (2010). Influenza Vaccines for the Future. New York: Springer.