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Types of Vaccines

May 2004

The chart below is a list of some vaccines and the diseases they protect against. The remaining articles in this issue provide a deeper understanding of several specific vaccines and the types of vaccinations most critical for people living with HIV. Vaccines protect not only you but also everyone around you.


The Various Types of Common Vaccines
Vaccine TypeDiseaseAdvantageDisadvantage
Live, weakened vaccinesMeasles, mumps, rubella (German measles), polio (Sabin vaccine) and chicken poxProduces a strong immune response so can provide life-long immunity with 1-2 doses.Not safe for people with compromised immune systems. Needs refrigeration to stay potent.
Inactivated or "killed" vaccinesCholera, flu, hepatitis A, rabies, polio (Salk vaccine)Safe for people with compromised immune systems. Easily stored and transported; does not require refrigeration.Usually requires booster shots every few years to remain effective.
Subunit VaccinesHepatitis BLower chance of adverse reaction.Research can be time-consuming and difficult.
Conjugate VaccinesHaemophilus influenzae B (or Hib) and pneumococcal vaccineSafe for people with immune compromised systems.Usually requires booster shots every few years to remain effective.

For more information on vaccines, read Project Inform's publication, Vaccines.


Two-for-One Vaccination for Hepatitis A and B

Hepatitis A and hepatitis B are the two most frequently reported diseases that can be prevented by vaccines. The combination vaccine called Twinrix® combines two vaccines -- Havrix® for hepatitis A and Engerix-B® for hepatitis B.

This combination vaccine is recommended for those at risk of exposure to hepatitis A and hepatitis B viruses. People at risk include those living with HIV. The Twinrix® vaccination is a series of at least three shots, the second shot follows the first by about a month and the third shot should happen between six months to one year after the first shot. Once you complete the vaccination series, you are protected from both diseases.

An anti-body titer is a blood test to check whether your immune system mounted a protective response (made enough antibodies) to the two viruses to guard against both diseases. If your antibody titer is not high enough, another vaccination and blood titer are usually recommended.

Some people with HIV may need more than three shots to stimulate the immune system to make enough antibodies to guard against hepatitis A and B. Others, particularly those with very low CD4+ cell counts, may not be able to make enough antibodies to be considered successfully vaccinated. If you have not been vaccinated for hepatitis A and/or Hepatitis B -- talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated. (For more information about hepatitis, read Project Inform's publications, Hepatitis, Hepatitis C and Wise Words #12.)


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