What vaccines protect against bacterial infections?

Most of the vaccines that are routinely recommended for children, adolescents and adults protect against viruses. However, there are some life-threatening diseases caused by bacteria that can be prevented by vaccinations. Tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), diphtheria, Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type B), pneumococcal and meningococcal vaccines all protect against bacterial illness.
Typically, inactivated vaccines protect against bacterial infections. Many bacteria secrete toxins that damage healthy cells.
  • Toxoid vaccines treat the bacteria with formalin, which renders the toxins harmless but still retains enough of their structure to "teach" immune cells to recognize the bacteria and train them to lock onto the toxin antigen before the bacteria can release it. Toxoid vaccines are used for diphtheria and tetanus.
  • Conjugate vaccines are also used in young children to protect against infections caused by Haemophilus influenzae type b (such as meningitis and lung infections) and pneumococcal disease.

Continue Learning about Vaccines & Immunizations

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.

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.