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TBE Meningococcal Disease Influenza Smallpox

  Polysaccharide Vaccines

Meningococcal combined polysaccharide vaccines against meningitis A and B were introduced in the 1960ís and are still in use. They are effective in certain age groups, but have a poor response in children under the age of 2 years. The reason is that the immature immune system in young children is unable to recognize the polysaccharides from the coating of the bacteria as immunogenic, which is necessary in order to induce antibodies. However, the combined vaccines offer midterm protection for children and adolescents following localized outbreaks and for travelers to areas with a prevalence of serotype A.

Thus, the challenge was to develop a vaccine that can overcome the poor immunogenicity of polysaccharide vaccines. Bacteria cells have a polysaccharide capsule (an outer sugar coating protecting them from being destroyed by cells of the immune system), which was conjugated (linked) with a carrier protein (e.g. tetanus toxoid) that induces a T cell-dependent antibody response even in infants. The result is early protection of the child and long-term immunological memory (response of T cells). (9,11,14,15,16,18,23)

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