You probably don’t remember getting your first vaccinations, but your childhood immunizations have provided protection from measles, pertussis, diptheria, polio, and other diseases that were once common. Edward Jenner developed the first vaccine, against smallpox, at the end of the 18th century, and the principles that informed his vaccine design are still in use today in the quest for new and more potent vaccines. Vaccines rely on a healthy immune system that can respond to the vaccine and develop the immunological memory necessary to fight off disease when challenged with a real pathogen. Here, we will explore the science behind existing vaccines, the risks and benefits associated with vaccines, and the challenges in designing improved and new vaccines for a variety of diseases.
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