Bloom & Elix has enlisted the expertise of Pharmacist Extraordinaire, Anita Rasoda, RPh, ACPR, to create a series of articles that bring a medical focus to our wellness offerings. And one of the hottest topics right now is vaccines. With the emergence of a number of COVID vaccines, we are being asked to look at vaccination as a preventative modality for ourselves and our families.
We at Bloom & Elix are not here to tell you whether or not to take the vaccine. What we do want to do is to provide you with accurate news and research so that you can make the right choice, the informed choice, for yourself and your family. In first of this two part series, Anita will walk us through the basics of vaccines and how they are created. Part II will focus on the COVID vaccine development process and the ingredients that can be found in the vaccine.
We hope you find this informative and helpful in better understanding some of what is happening in our world right now.
So without further ado, I'll hand the pen over to Anita:
Anita Rasoda: I come from a belief that health care should be a preventative practice. We should focus on preventative health strategies through wellness and nutrition in trying to prevent diseases of our lifestyle. A holistic approach to care means listening to patients and understanding their unique needs. There is no one shoe that fits all when it comes to health and wellness.
My role as a pharmacist is to ensure that therapy is safe, effective and necessary for my patients. My top priority is tailoring therapies that meet my patient’s health, cultural and lifestyle needs. The heart of my practice is pharmaceutical care; with the goal of providing optimal therapeutic therapy to satisfy patient outcomes and do no harm.
My goal is to allow my patients to make informed decisions of their therapeutic options ensuring efficacy and safety are paramount. I truly believe in holistic, patient centric care, where I help to bridge together the medicines of health from conventional to functional therapies. Patients want care that is reflective of who they are; this means health care that incorporates a holistic approach and complementing with eastern and western, traditional and novel, pharma and farm medicines.
On December 9th, 2020, Health Canada approved Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA vaccine Tozinameran or BNT162b2 to prevent COVID-19 disease caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
The World Health Organization declared COVID -19 as a global pandemic on March 11, 2020. Tens of millions of people have been affected and unfortunately, over a million people have perished from this infectious disease.
Historically, vaccine and drug development undergo years of clinical research and trials to determine the safety and efficacy of these therapies. The most commonly used vaccines have been around for decades, with millions of people receiving them safely every year. As with all medicines, every vaccine must go through extensive and rigorous testing to ensure it is safe before it can be introduced in a country.
What are Vaccines?
Vaccines are products that protect people against many diseases that can be very dangerous and even deadly. Vaccines are used to prevent diseases from occurring unlike most other therapies which are used to treat illnesses. They are a primary tool for preventative health strategies.
How do they work?
Vaccines are products that produce immunity to a specific disease. When you are immune to a disease, it means you are protected against that disease.
How are vaccines made?
First, a vaccine is tested in animals to see if it works and if it's safe. This testing must follow strict lab guidelines and generally takes three to six months. The manufacturing of vaccines also must follow quality and safety practices.
Next comes testing in humans.
Small phase I clinical trials evaluate the safety of the vaccine in humans.
During phase II, the formulation and doses of the vaccine are established to prove the vaccine's effectiveness.
Finally, during phase III, the safety and efficacy of a vaccine needs to be demonstrated in a larger group of people.
What are the Various Types of Vaccines?
Live vaccines use a weakened (attenuated) form of the germ that causes a disease. This kind of vaccine prompts an immune response without causing disease. The term attenuated means that the vaccine's ability to cause disease has been reduced.
Live vaccines are used to protect against measles, mumps, rubella, smallpox and chickenpox. As a result, the infrastructure is in place to develop these kinds of vaccines.
However, live virus vaccines often need extensive safety testing. Some live viruses can be transmitted to a person who isn't immunized. This is a concern for people who have weakened immune systems.
Inactivated vaccines use a killed (inactive) version of the germ that causes a disease. This kind of vaccine causes an immune response but not infection. Inactivated vaccines are used to prevent the flu, hepatitis A and rabies.
However, inactivated vaccines may not provide protection that's as strong as that produced by live vaccines. This type of vaccine often requires multiple doses, followed by booster doses, to provide long-term immunity. Producing these types of vaccines might require the handling of large amounts of the infectious virus.
Genetically engineered vaccines
This type of vaccine uses genetically engineered RNA or DNA that has instructions for making copies of the S protein. These copies prompt an immune response to the virus. With this approach, no infectious virus needs to be handled. While genetically engineered vaccines are in the works, none have been licensed for human use prior to now.
Stay tuned for Part II which will focus on the development and details on the COVID vaccine...