Lesson 4 Immunity, Vaccine, Biosecurity


A vaccine is a biological preparation that provides active acquired immunity to a particular infectious 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 First Vaccines:

The first vaccine was introduced by British physician Edward Jenner, who in 1796 used the cowpox virus (Vaccinia) to confer protection against smallpox, a related virus, in humans. Prior to that use, however, the principle of vaccination was applied by Asian physicians who gave children dried crusts from the lesions of people suffering from smallpox to protect against the disease. In 1881 French microbiologist Louis Pastuer demonstrated immunization against anthrax by injecting sheep with a preparation containing attenuated forms of the bacillus that causes the disease. Four years later he developed a protective suspension against rabies.


Adverse effect:

        Vaccination given during childhood is generally safe.Adverse effects, if any, are generally mild.The rate of side effects depends on the vaccine in question.Some common side effects include fever, pain around the injection site, and muscle aches. Additionally, some individuals may be allergic to ingredients in the vaccine. MMR vaccine is rarely associated with febrile seizures.

Severe side effects are extremely rare. Varicella vaccine is rarely associated with complications in immunodeficient individuals and rotavirus vaccines are moderately associated with intussusception.At least 19 countries have no-fault compensation programs to provide compensation for those suffering severe adverse effects of vaccination.The United States’ program is known as the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act and the United Kingdom employs the Vaccine Damage Payment.


Vaccine Effectiveness:

After Pasteur’s time, a widespread and intensive search for new vaccines was conducted, and vaccines against both bacteria and viruses were produced, as well as vaccines against venoms and other toxins. Through vaccination, smallpox was eradicated worldwide by 1980, and polio cases declined by 99 percent.


Vaccine Types:

There are several types of vaccines in use.


Some vaccines contain inactivated, but previously virulent, micro-organisms that have been destroyed with chemicals, heat, or radiation. Examples include the polio vaccine, hepatitis A vaccine, rabies vaccine and some influenza vaccines.



Some vaccines contain live, attenuated microorganisms. Many of these are active viruses that have been cultivated under conditions that disable their virulent properties, or that use closely related but less dangerous organisms to produce a broad immune response. Although most attenuated vaccines are viral, some are bacterial in nature. Examples include the viral diseases yellow fever, measles, mumps, and rubella, and the bacterial disease typhoid. The live Mycobacterium tuberculosis vaccine developed by Calmette and Guérin is not made of a contagious strain but contains a virulently modified strain called "BCG" used to elicit an immune response to the vaccine. The live attenuated vaccine containing strain Yersinia pestis EV is used for plague immunization. Attenuated vaccines have some advantages and disadvantages. They typically provoke more durable immunological responses and are the preferred type for healthy adults. But they may not be safe for use in immunocompromised individuals, and on rare occasions mutate to a virulent form and cause disease.



Toxoid vaccines are made from inactivated toxic compounds that cause illness rather than the micro-organism. Examples of toxoid-based vaccines include tetanus and diphtheria. Toxoid vaccines are known for their efficacy. Not all toxoids are for micro-organisms; for example, Crotalus atrox toxoid is used to vaccinate dogs against rattlesnake bites.



Protein subunit—rather than introducing an inactivated or attenuated micro-organism to an immune system (which would constitute a "whole-agent" vaccine), a fragment of it can create an immune response. Examples include the subunit vaccine against Hepatitis B virus that is composed of only the surface proteins of the virus (previously extracted from the blood serum of chronically infected patients, but now produced by recombination of the viral genes into yeast)[38] or as an edible algae vaccine, the virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV) that is composed of the viral major capsid protein, and the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase subunits of the influenza virus. Subunit vaccine is being used for plague immunization.



Conjugate—certain bacteria have polysaccharide outer coats that are poorly immunogenic. By linking these outer coats to proteins (e.g., toxins), the immune system can be led to recognize the polysaccharide as if it were a protein antigen. This approach is used in the Haemophilus influenzae type B vaccine.


The basic strategies behind the use of vaccines are to prepare the human immune system to deal with harmful pathogens. Adjuvants, such as aluminum, are incorporated into vaccines to hasten the body's immune response.

Causes of vaccine failure

The causes of vaccine failure can be categorized into two major factors: antigen factor and host response.

  • Antigen factors:

The protective vaccine antigen is of prime importance in the production of effective vaccine. The vaccines available in the market may have the following shortcomings resulting in vaccine failure.

  • Improper formulation of vaccine:

The vaccines are manufactured in a processing plant where the titer of antigen of specific virus or bacteria may not be maintained properly; as a result, the inoculums may not initiate protective immune response in birds. The titer of antigen in the vial of vaccine may be low which results in low immunity level in birds. The dose–response relationship among the virus content, serological response and clinical protection has been reported. Virus concentration has a significant effect on immunogenicity of vaccines. The inadequate procedure of Formulation of vaccine and lack of standard procedures of vaccine formulation result in the production of non-potent vaccine.

  • Non-usage of local antigens:

Some of the viral diseases of poultry like infectious bursal disease and salmonella have many serotypes. Some of the serotypes are prevalent in one area, while others are prevalent in other areas. The local disease causing agents in any area are of prime importance for vaccine manufacturing. The strains of viruses differ from area to area. The local serotypes and locally isolated antigens are considered the most suitable immunogens for formulating vaccines. The non-usage of local vaccine antigens may result in disease outbreaks. The foreign vaccine may be made from serotypes that are different from field strain. Moreover, vaccination with foreign vaccine may not provide immunity to birds if the field strain is of higher virulence and of a different nature.

  • Improper storage temperature:

After the formulation of the vaccine, its storage is of utmost importance. The freeze-dried vaccines require freezing temperatures, while lyophilized vaccines may be stored at 4°C, and during transportation the low temperature might not be properly maintained. The Marek’s disease vaccine is stored in liquid nitrogen at very low temperatures, while live vaccines of ND, IBD, IB, etc. are stored at 4–8°C. The oil-based vaccines may be stored below 8°C. In the poultry sector, almost all the vaccines available are thermo labile in nature. The maintenance of proper cold chains and storage temperature is a prerequisite for optimal potency of vaccines. The shortage of electricity, weak, nonfunctional, obsolete and repaired storage equipment, high temperature during transport, refrigerators without thermometers, etc. are the common problems of vaccine storage of developing countries like Malaysia, India, Tanzania and Pakistan [14–18]. Data have been recorded about use of vaccines after purchase from the market in Nigeria, and it has been found that 16% of farmers do not perform vaccination on the date of purchase of vaccine and 7% of farmers store the vaccine on the shelf without proper preservation, thus resulting in vaccine failure.

  • Exposure to direct sunlight:

It has been documented that vaccines are transported like ordinary drugs [2]. Direct sunlight has UV radiations which are lethal for live viruses. The exposure of vaccine to direct sunlight results in the killing of antigens present in the vial, and as a result, the number of viral antigens is reduced in the vaccine and the vaccine may become ineffective.

  • Use of expired vaccines:

The potency of vaccines is maintained to a certain period of time, provided that the transportation and storage temperature is properly maintained. The use of vaccines after the date of expiry may not result in optimal immune response and can also result in vaccine failure.

  • Mutation of viruses:

Some of the viruses like the influenza virus are of a mutating nature and as a result pose a serious threat regarding the effectiveness of vaccine against certain diseases.

  • Host factors:

The poultry birds to be vaccinated against diseases may not respond effectively against vaccines due to the following shortcomings, thus resulting in vaccine failure.

  • Stress on birds:

Stress is a condition of vulnerable homeostasis and is affected by management and environment factors. Birds normally have limited resources in the body for growth, response to environment changes and maintain a defense system for diseases. The stress on birds can be due to a number of factors including cold stress, heat stress, high humidity, transportation stress, intensive farming, high stocking density, overcrowding, low per bird space, decreased ventilation, poor litter conditions, accumulation of bad smell in sheds and poultry houses, off feeding, water deprivation, poor management, bad sanitary conditions, very wet or extremely dry litter, dusty environment, parasitism, nutritional deficiency, fever, and so on. In these cases, there can also be vaccine failure in livestock. The poultry birds are sensitive to both cold and warm weather. Heat stress is an important factor of economic loss for the producer, while cold stress modifies the immune response of broilers [20]. The symptoms of stress in birds include panting, increased thirst, reduced appetite, reduced egg production, decreased weight gain, small sized eggs, thin egg shells, reduced growth, prostration, etc. All the factors including management conditions, substandard hygienic conditions, etc. contribute to the possible causes of high economic losses by leading to vaccine failure.

  • Concurrent disease:

It is highly important that the vaccination should be done in healthy birds. The vaccination in sick and diseased birds may not provide fruitful results; rather, vaccine reaction may occur leading to extra stress and an increased morbidity and mortality rate. Moreover, any other disease condition may also contribute to vaccine failure. When the birds are morbid due to the same disease for which vaccination had been done, then there will also be vaccine failure because the antibodies produced against the pathogenic agent will neutralize the antigen of vaccine and a reaction may take place in the body of birds and vaccination may worsen the condition of disease.

  • Immunosuppressive diseases:

Certain diseases are immune-suppressive in poultry flocks like mycotoxicosis, infectious bursal diseases (Gumbora), chicken infectious anemia, Marek’s disease, etc. These immune suppressive diseases may also lead to vaccine failure. The fungal toxins present in poultry feed have a bad effect on the feed conversion, growth, health and immune status. The fungal toxins cause the following effects: carcinogenic, allergic, hypersensitivity and depression. The common age of infection of infectious bursal disease (Gambaro) in poultry flock is at 3rd to 7th week of age. The bursa is a lymphoid organ in poultry where maturation of B cells takes place in poultry. The infection of IBD during this stage of age may lead to permanent damage to bursa; as a result, the maturation of B Cells may not take place in birds throughout their life span and thus the birds remain prone to vaccine failure during the rest of their lives.

  • Immaturity of birds:

The receptors for some antigens develop in the body with advancing age. Some of receptors of virus develop as early as with the hatch of a chick. The receptors of diseases like Newcastle disease, infectious bronchitis, etc. develop at a very early age while the receptors of diseases like infectious bursa disease, fowl pox, etc. develops late in the body. Vaccination at a very early age before the development of certain receptors may also result in vaccine failure. The age of the bird is very important at the time of vaccination.

  • Interaction with maternal antibodies:

The antibodies of certain viral diseases are transmitted through eggs. As the breeder/parent flocks of poultry are routinely vaccinated against viral diseases which are prevalent in the area, the newly hatched chicks have maternal antibodies in their blood and these can interact with vaccine antigens. The antibodies against ND virus and IBD virus are transmitted in eggs and provide protection to the newly hatched chicks during the first week of birth. High maternal antibodies interfere with multiplication of live vaccines and reduce the level of immunity production in the chicks. The use of live vaccines during the first week of birth in chicks against diseases whose maternal antibodies still persist in the body of the chick will result in neutralizing of antigen and active immunity may not be provided by the vaccine.

  • Improper route of administration:

The vaccines have specific routes for their administration in the body of the bird, that is, through oral, subcutaneous (S/C), intramuscular (I/M), wing web (W/W), drinking water (D/W), eye dropping (E/D), spray, etc. Not following f specific recommended routes of vaccination may result in vaccine failure in poultry flocks. The fault of administering the vaccine also results in vaccine failure. Vaccination may result in vaccine failure in poultry flocks. The fault of administering the vaccine also results in vaccine failure.

  • Climatic factors:

The climate variation is a change in climatic parameters (temperature, rainfall, humidity and soil moisture). Climate change affects both living and nonliving creatures, thus contributing to the health of poultry flocks and may lead to vaccine failure and disease outbreaks.