0800 Immune

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Vaccine development

The practice of immunisation dates back hundreds of years. Buddhist monks drank snake venom to confer immunity to snake bite and variolation (smearing of a skin tear with cowpox to confer immunity to smallpox) was practiced in 17th century China. Edward Jenner is considered the founder of vaccinology in the West in 1796, after he inoculated a 13 year-old-boy with vaccinia virus (cowpox), and demonstrated immunity to smallpox.
Types of vaccines All vaccines contain an active component (the antigen) which generates the protective immune response. Vaccines may also contain additional components.
Vaccine manufacture and composition is complex and tightly regulated to maximise safety. The safety of the individual components, and of the vaccine itself, must be demonstrated before a vaccine can be licensed and used in New Zealand.

Last updated: Jan 2020