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David Baxter

, Sam Ghebrehewet

, and Gill Marsh

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date: 17 December 2018

Immunization has been used by human societies for more than a thousand years to control a number of important vaccine-preventable infections. Currently an infant born in an industrialized society will be immunized against more than 25 pathogens by 13 months of age; an elderly person in the same country will similarly be offered protection against 28 pathogens. The main reasons for continuing with immunization programmes in the face of declining rates of vaccine-preventable diseases/infections are discussed. This chapter also looks at the different vaccines that are widely used in many countries, describing the four main types and explaining how they utilize the body’s natural defence systems to provide protection. Vaccines are the most complex agents used by healthcare workers and this chapter reviews their different components and explains their different functions.

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