A vaccine is a biological preparation that provides active acquired immunity to a particular disease. A vaccine typically contains an agent that resembles a disease-causing microorganism and is often made from weakened or killed forms of the microbe, its toxins or one of its surface proteins. The agent stimulates the body’s immune system to recognize the agent as a threat, destroy it, and keep a record of it so that the immune system can more easily recognize and destroy any of these microorganisms that it later encounters. Vaccines can be prophylactic (example: to prevent or ameliorate the effects of a future infection by any natural or “wild” pathogen), or therapeutic (e.g., vaccines against cancer are being investigated).

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