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How are Vaccines Made? – HealthyWomen

How Are Vaccines Made?

Picture of a big household seated across the Thanksgiving dinner desk. Mother, on the head of the desk, is speaking

Mother: I’m so glad we may all be collectively for Thanksgiving this yr! Emily, we’re particularly glad to lastly meet you. Sam has been gushing about you nonstop because you two began courting.

Picture of a younger grownup male (her son, Sam) and his girlfriend (Emily) smiling

Sam: You lastly have a physician within the household, Mother! [laughs] Emily is sort of finished with med faculty. She’s been working at a vaccine clinic within the metropolis as a part of her residency.

Picture of Mother smiling and speaking

Mother: How fantastic! I simply received my flu shot final week. I simply want I may persuade Sam’s dad to do the identical.

Picture of Dad, seated on the different finish of the desk, speaking

Dad: I’m positive you’re doing good work, Emily. I’m simply not satisfied that vaccines are protected. How do they even give you these issues?

Picture of Emily speaking

Emily: I completely perceive your concern, Mr. Rose. However a variety of work goes into ensuring vaccines are protected and efficient. I can let you know slightly bit about how they’re made when you’re ? I don’t wish to bore everybody. [laughs]

Picture of everybody on the desk (besides Emily) nodding and smiling

Dad: I’d love to listen to from an professional supply, Emily — and we’ve received a variety of turkey to get by right here! [laughs] Please, go forward.


Step 1: Selecting a Goal

Emily: Nicely, first, scientists select which illness-causing virus or micro organism to focus on with a vaccine.


Immune points

Too uncommon

Not severe sufficient

(these phrases ought to are available in one after the other to match VO)

Some viruses aren’t good targets due to the best way they work together with the immune system. Others are too uncommon, or don’t trigger illness severe sufficient to wish a vaccine. 

Picture of grownup lady (Aunt Lucy) at desk speaking 

Aunt Lucy: Is that why there’s no vaccine for HIV? Due to the best way it impacts the immune system?

Picture of Emily nodding

HIV with a circle and slash round it

Emily Precisely. Though scientists are engaged on an HIV vaccine. HIV simply isn’t a straightforward goal.


Step 2: Exploratory Part

As soon as a vaccine goal has been chosen, the exploratory section begins. 

Picture of a lab stuffed with a various group of scientists bent over microscopes

Throughout this section, researchers research the best way the virus or micro organism impacts the immune system.

Picture of Emily speaking 

Visible illustration of the method of the imitation invader educating physique to fend off virus/micro organism

The purpose is to create an “imitation invader” that teaches our our bodies learn how to fend off the virus or micro organism. That means, our immune system is aware of what to do when it comes throughout the true factor.


Step 3: Pre-Scientific Testing 

As soon as the vaccine is lastly developed, pre-clinical testing can begin. 

Sequence of photographs: first a Petri dish, then a math equation, then a white mouse 

Throughout this section, the vaccine is examined in just a few completely different ways in which don’t contain folks.

Picture of syringe/needle with purple X over it

Sadly, not many vaccines make it previous pre-clinical testing as a result of they don’t activate the immune system the best way they need to.

Sam speaks whereas he places extra meals on his plate

Sam: If a vaccine does present potential, what occurs subsequent? 


Step 4: FDA Approval for Scientific Testing

Emily: The subsequent step is getting approval for medical testing from the FDA. This occurs in three phases.

A various group of individuals lined as much as get a vaccine from a lab-coated lady.

In the course of the first section of medical testing, small teams of individuals obtain the trial vaccine.

A bigger, various group of individuals lined as much as get a vaccine from the identical lab-coated lady

In the course of the second section, the research is expanded to incorporate individuals who share issues in widespread (like age and well being) with the folks the vaccine is meant for.

An excellent bigger various group of individuals lined as much as get a vaccine from the identical lab-coated lady

In the course of the third section, the vaccine is given to hundreds of individuals to ensure it’s protected and efficient.

Little boy appears to be like up from consuming his meal 

Little Boy: How do they be certain that a vaccine will work for everybody? 

Picture of Emily speaking

Emily: Nicely, medical trials attempt to embody a variety of various kinds of folks to ensure the vaccine works nicely for everybody, with out harmful unintended effects. 


Step 5: Manufacturing and distribution

Vaccines coming off manufacturing belts and being shipped to after which arriving at physician’s workplaces, pharmacies, public well being clines 

As soon as a vaccine is lastly accepted, that’s when it will get mass-produced and distributed to physician’s workplaces, pharmacies and public well being clinics throughout the nation. 

Picture of Dad speaking

Dad: That’s the half that worries me. How do we all know a vaccine is protected when it’s by no means been used earlier than?

Picture of guidelines with the phrases “protected” and “efficient” checked off

Emily: I hear you, and I believe it’s pure to fret about one thing model new. However vaccines are based mostly on years and years of analysis, and a vaccine is rarely accepted by the FDA except it’s confirmed to be protected and efficient.

Picture of Dad nodding his head and speaking

Dad: I need to say, you’ve made a convincing case for vaccines, Emily. I’ve to admit, I didn’t know half of what you simply instructed us. [laughs]

Picture of Emily laughing and speaking

Emily : Most individuals don’t! And there’s a variety of misinformation about vaccines on the market. That’s why I’m all the time prepared to speak about them — at the least till it’s time for dessert … 

Picture of mother, laughing and standing up from desk

Mother: Talking of which, who needs pumpkin pie?

Picture of everybody at desk smiling and elevating a hand

Fade out

Picture of the dad getting a vaccine. 

Wish to ensure you and your family members are updated on vaccines? Your healthcare supplier, pharmacist or native well being division may help.

You too can go to the CDC web site to be taught extra about vaccines and vaccine schedules.

For extra data, please go to

This useful resource was created with assist from Merck.



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