There are many types of vaccines. Different types or formulations affect how they are used, how they are stored, and how they are administered. If they are to be safe and effective, it is vital to be familiar with the different types and to know how to handle them.

Different vaccines can cause different adverse reactions, and it is important to recognize what these may be. Can you identify the contraindications for vaccination and know which present an additional risk? What special considerations should you make when immunizing pregnant women or immunocompromised individuals?

This module will explain the different types of vaccine and the main routes of administration. You will learn about the main vaccine reactions and the importance of understanding contraindications – as ignoring these could lead to vaccine reactions. Finally, you will look at public concern over vaccines and consider some rumours about vaccine safety that have been disproved by research.

Module outcomes

By the end of this module you should be able to:

  • 1explain the modes of action of live attenuated vaccines, conjugate vaccines, subunit vaccines, and toxoid vaccines;
  • 2list types of vaccine components, including adjuvants and preservatives, and explain their functions;
  • 3explain the difference between live attenuated and inactivated vaccines;
  • 4identify the contraindications for vaccination that may present an additional risk.