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Difference between Antibiotics and Vaccines

Difference between Antibiotics and Vaccines

It is common for people to confuse antibiotics and vaccines. Although both are meant to prevent and treat illnesses, they work in different ways. Antibiotics are prescribed to kill bacteria, while vaccines help the body build immunity against infections. It is important to know the difference between these two types of medications, especially during a pandemic like the flu.

What is an Antibiotic?

Antibiotics are drugs that fight bacteria in the body. They work by killing the bacteria or preventing them from growing. Antibiotics are used to treat infections caused by bacteria. They are not effective against infections caused by viruses, such as the flu or the common cold. Antibiotics can be taken orally, in the form of pills, or they can be injected. Antibiotics are generally safe and well-tolerated, but they can cause side effects, such as gastrointestinal upset, rashes, and yeast infections. When used properly, antibiotics can save lives by treating serious bacterial infections. However, the overuse of antibiotics has contributed to the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, which are a major public health concern. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria adapt and survive exposure to antibiotics. As a result, infections that were once easily treatable with antibiotics may become difficult or impossible to treat. Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem worldwide, and it is important to use antibiotics responsibly to help slow down the development of resistance.

What is Vaccine?

Vaccines are biological preparations that provide 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 foreign, destroy it, and “remember” it so that the immune system can more easily recognize and destroy any of these microorganisms that it later encounters. Vaccines can be prophylactic (e.g. to prevent or ameliorate the effects of a future infection by a natural or “wild” pathogen), or therapeutic (e.g. vaccines against cancer are also being investigated). Vaccination for smallpox was invented by Edward Jenner in 1796; following his work, many vaccines were developed throughout the 19th and 20th centuries including vaccines against anthrax, rabies, hepatitis A and B, influenza, and poliomyelitis among others. Vaccination has greatly reduced the incidence of some diseases such as polio (represented by paralysis) and measles; more effective control of other diseases such as diphtheria occurred following the introduction of antibiotics after World War II.

Difference between Antibiotics and Vaccines

Antibiotics are drugs that are used to treat infections by bacteria. They work by killing the bacteria or by preventing them from reproducing. Antibiotics are usually given as pills, liquids, or shots. Vaccines are medical products that help the body to develop immunity against diseases. Vaccines contain weakened or killed forms of viruses, bacteria, or other organisms that cause the disease. They work by causing the body to produce antibodies against these organisms. Antibodies are proteins that recognize and destroy foreign substances in the body. Antibiotics are used to treat infections; vaccines are used to prevent infections. Antibodies produced in response to a vaccine protect against future infection by the same organism. Antibiotics do not provide this protection. Antibiotics are produced in a laboratory; vaccines are produced from viruses, bacteria, or other organisms that have been weakened or killed in the laboratory. Antibiotics can have side effects; most vaccines do not cause side effects.


Antibiotics and vaccines are both important tools for public health, but they work in different ways. Vaccines protect people from getting sick by building immunity to a virus or disease. Antibiotics are used to treat an infection that has already occurred. It is important to understand the difference between these two types of medicines so that you can make informed decisions about your health and the health of your family.

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