What is an inactivated (killed) vaccine?

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An inactivated vaccine is one that is made from dead viruses or bacteria, or may be made from pieces of them (so-called fractional vaccines). They are killed with heat, radiation or chemicals. They are unable to cause disease, but still able to provoke a response from the immune system. Afterward, the immune system's memory cells will recognize the disease and attack it if it invades the body. They are not as effective as live vaccines, however, and usually require multiple shots. Common inactivated vaccines include those for polio and hepatitis A.

An inactivated vaccine is a killed virus. The virus particles are grown in culture and then killed with heat or formaldehyde. The flu and polio vaccines are examples of inactivated vaccines. These compare to live vaccines, such as measles, mumps and rubella.

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Vaccines & Immunizations

Vaccines & Immunizations

Vaccines are commonly given to children in the form of a shot to help prevent serious diseases like measles and mumps. Vaccines are developed using either dead strains of a disease, weakened strains, or strains of a different dise...

ase. As adults, we receive flu vaccines or may need a booster of childhood vaccines to retain immunity. Travelers may receive vaccines either as a condition of entry to a country, or on recommendation of health officials. Generally there is little or no reaction to a vaccine, but in some cases the vaccine may cause an allergic reaction or a temporary, mild illness. Some vaccines are not safe for pregnant women, so it’s important to check with a healthcare professional.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.