How do vaccines work?
Vaccines contain parts of a pathogen that's been deactivated so that an immune response occurs in the body. More advanced vaccines contain a blueprint that tells your body how to create the antigen.
Whether the vaccine contains parts of a deactivated pathogen or a blueprint for an antigen, your immune system will respond like it would if it had encountered the real disease!
Once your body has produced the antibodies to defend against the disease, then it makes it much easier for your body to fight the real disease if and when you come into contact with it.
Who created the first vaccine?
Edward Jenner created the first vaccine back in 1796. He inoculated a small boy, 13-years of age, with cowpox which gave him immunity to smallpox! This vaccine was given to so many people throughout the following hundred years that smallpox was eradicated by 1979.
Jenner may not have been around to see the eventual global success of his vaccine, but his contribution to medical science has helped to save hundreds of lives.
Who creates vaccines today?
Nowadays there are thousands of people worldwide who dedicate their lives to developing vaccines to treat diseases. There are people working together to help make the world a safer place.
Vaccine research and development takes place over several years, and the end product needs to be trialled, tested and perfected before it's rolled out to the general public. For this reason, there are a lot of different people who work towards creating vaccines today.
To start with, you will need an educational background in a relevant scientific field. For example, biochemistry, microbiology or pharmacology. Some vaccine creation jobs may even specify masters or doctorate level education.
Then, you will need to choose an area of specialisation. Some people work in vaccine research & data management while others work in developmental research, clinical trials, production and distribution. There are lots of different ways you can get involved in the production of vaccines if that's the career you'd like to pursue.