Have you received your flu vaccine for this season? You’ve probably heard this question a million times before and for good reason. Vaccines protect and train your immune system to fight against specific diseases and dangerous microorganisms that can wreak havoc on your body. What you may not have realized is that there are several different types of vaccines that serve different purposes. These essential vaccines are developed based on how the immune system responds to dangerous microorganisms, who needs to take the vaccine, and what is the best technological approach to administer the vaccine. Basically, scientists take a great deal of technical information into consideration when developing and administering vaccines meant to protect human health. 

Types of vaccines


Vaccines are created using different processes that contain live, inactive, or inactivated viruses. It all depends on what the scientist is trying to achieve and the nature of the microorganism they are working with. This practice dates back to hundreds of years when Buddhist monks created immunities to snake bites in 17th century China. In western culture, Edward Jenner is considered to be the founder of vaccinology in 1796 after vaccinating a 13-year-old boy who demonstrated immunity to cowpox soon after. In 1798, the smallpox vaccine was developed and the rest is history. Since then, many different types of vaccines have been developed over the years that include live – attenuated, inactive, toxoids, subunit, recombinant, polysaccharide, and conjugate vaccines. Sounds complicated and technical? Don’t worry, we can explain!


  • Live – attenuated vaccines: You may have heard the term “live vaccine” before and may be wondering what is an attenuated vaccine. Attenuated is simply another word for a weakened germ. Their close similarity to the natural infection generates a stronger and longer-lasting immune response. If you’re wondering which vaccines are live, the list includes measles, smallpox, yellow fever, chickenpox, and mumps. 
  • Inactive vaccines: An inactive vaccine utilizes the killed version of the microorganism that causes disease. These vaccines are weaker and don’t last as long as live vaccines. They typically require several ongoing doses to achieve the highest immunity. These ongoing doses are usually referred to as booster shots. Inactive vaccines include flu, polio, rabies, and hepatitis A.
  • Toxoids vaccines: These vaccines are drastically different than those listed above. They utilize a harmful product or toxin made by the germ to create immunity, causing the body’s immune system to respond to and target the toxin rather than the microorganism causing the illness. Some vaccines part of this list include tetanus and diphtheria. 
  • Subunit vaccines: Subunit vaccines only use part of the microorganism to develop immunity by isolating specific proteins. The short form of the flu vaccine is also an example of this. 
  • Conjugate vaccines: Conjugate vaccines are similar in that they also use part of the microorganism to develop immunity. However, they are created by using parts of the coating of bacteria which are linked to certain bacteria by chemical links. This combination not only creates the vaccine but also improves the immune system considerably. An example of this type of vaccine is meningitis. 
  • Recombinant vaccines: These vaccines are developed through the combination of DNA by inserting a gene coding into another virus. These vaccines can also be created through genetic engineering like the HPV virus.
  • Polysaccharide vaccines: This vaccine also uses parts of the germ as well to develop immunity. These vaccines are generally used for adults 65 and older with serious long term health issues. They are responsible for dramatically decreasing the mortality rate amongst adults in this age range that are subject to diseases that cause bloodstream infections. 


MyCare Health Partners are here for you

As part of our general and preventative health services, we provide numerous types of vaccines meant to boost your immune system and ensure you live a long and healthy life. Our extensive network of experienced healthcare professionals, top medical facilities, and high-quality physicians provide excellent customer service and attentive medical care. 

Have you had your flu shot yet? Take a look at our website and book an appointment today!