A Shot in the Arm or a Hard Pill to Swallow?
Comparing Vaccine Formulations
Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine
The immune response to a vaccine is influenced by the nature of the vaccine and the delivery method. In this interrupted case study, students traveling to a typhoid fever endemic area must decide which of two typhoid fever vaccine formulations would be most appropriate for them. One vaccine, which is given by injection, consists of a subunit of the bacterium that causes typhoid fever, Salmonella Typhi, whereas the other consists of live, attenuated bacteria taken by ingesting a pill. The students apply basic immunology concepts to understand how different vaccine formulations lead to different immune responses. Using this knowledge and information about the disadvantages of each vaccine type, students discuss which vaccine would be best for different populations. The case was designed for an upper level undergraduate microbiology course but could also be used as a unit in a basic biology course or courses for pre-medical or pre-nursing students to provide basic information on how vaccines work.
- Describe the basics of adaptive immunity.
- Explain how different vaccine formulations lead to different immune responses.
- Describe the advantages and disadvantages of different vaccine formulations and predict how those may affect vaccine choice by different populations (e.g., different age groups or different socioeconomic backgrounds or other factors that affect vaccine sustainability).
- Predict how the immune status of the host can affect vaccine choice based on efficacy and safety considerations.
- Select which vaccine formulation would give the strongest and longest lasting immune response for a particular population.
KeywordsVaccine; vaccination; immunity; immunology; host immune response; Salmonella; typhoid fever; infectious disease; bacteria
Educational LevelUndergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division, Professional (degree program)
Type / MethodsDiscussion, Interrupted
Subject HeadingsBiology (General) | Medicine (General) | Microbiology | Nursing | Public Health |
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The following video(s) are recommended for use in association with this case study.
- Immune system
A good basic introduction to the immune system. Running time: 9:40 min. Produced by Brightstorm, 2010.
- B lymphocytes (B cells)
An overview of humoral immunity including information about antibodies (immunoglobulins) and the development of B cells. Running time: 14:12 min. Produced by Khan Academy.
- Professional antigen presenting cells (APC) and MHC II complexes
Explains the role of antigen presenting cells in the immune response. Running time: 11:32 min. Produced by Khan Academy.
- Helper T cells
Covers helper T cells and their role in the immune response. Running time: 20:33 min. Produced by Khan Academy.
- Cytotoxic T cells and MHC I complexes
Explains the development of cytotoxic T cells and their method of killing. Running time: 9:15 min. Produced by Khan Academy.
- Review of B cells, CD4+ T cells and CD8+ T cells
Reviews B cells, helper T cells, cytotoxic T cells, and how they relate to each other in the adaptive immune response; also introduces CD4 and CD8 on T cells. Running time: 11:06 min. Produced by Khan Academy.