How Vaccines Work
We stock a range of vaccines for use in farm animals. Vaccines play a vital role in preventing disease and should be part of a farm's health plan.
How do vaccines work?
Vaccines stimulate the body to produce its own defence against infection. Mimicking what happens when an animal has been exposed to disease, the body and its defensive system will "remember" the identity of the invading organisms. So, when the animal comes into contact with a disease, its body is ready to fight it and the animal will not fall ill and suffer. This protects the individual animal and because this animal will not develop the disease and will not become infective, it will also help protect the population from the disease - "herd immunity".
A vaccine may consist of live but attenuated viruses or bacteria, or killed (inactivated) viruses or bacteria, or parts of them.
"Killed" or inactivated vaccines are prepared from killed organisms or fractions of the organism incapable of causing disease. They generally provide a relatively short period of immunity.
In attenuated vaccines, the immunising agent (antigen) is an organism such as a virus, bacterium or parasite, which has been developed to stimulate the production of the appropriate antibodies without causing the disease. Live vaccines are particularly effective in providing long-term protection, because they are a more powerful stimulus to the immune system. They are also more versatile in their route of administration.
Vaccination can be by a wide variety of routes: through water, baits, airspray, eye inoculation, intranasally, orally or using the more classical injection.
Achieving initial immunity may require more than one injection. Once established, this can be boosted by subsequent vaccination, as required.
Today's vaccines are very effective and have a remarkably high safety record. Millions of doses are used annually in the UK alone. The use of vaccines has brought significant levels of control against diseases that farm animals previously suffered.