Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Children's Vaccines Health Center

Font Size

Vaccine Information Statements - Vaccine Basics

Vaccines help prevent people from getting sick. They also help reduce the spread of disease to others and prevent epidemics. There are many kinds of vaccines. Each vaccine is made up of parts of weakened or killed bacteria or viruses of a specific disease. After you have a vaccine, your body's immune system makes antibodies to fight the disease. If you are exposed to the same disease in the future, the antibodies kill the bacteria or viruses before they have a chance to make you sick.

If you get a vaccine, it may not completely prevent you from getting a disease, but it makes it much less likely. If you get a disease even after you have been vaccinated, it usually will be only a mild case.

Recommended Related to Children's Vaccines

Should Your Child Get the HPV Vaccine?

If you have a child who is at least 9 years old, you may be weighing whether he or she should get vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection that can cause genital warts and cervical cancer. Men and women can carry it. HPV sometimes plays a role in other cancers as well, including cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and throat. There are two HPV vaccines: Gardasil and Cervarix. Gardasil, which protects against four HPV types (6, 11, 16,...

Read the Should Your Child Get the HPV Vaccine? article > >

Vaccines are usually given by shot (injection). Some are given by mouth as a pill or liquid, or by a spray (aerosol) into the nose. Vaccines are also called immunizations.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: July 08, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    Baby getting vaccinated
    Is there a link? Get the facts.
    syringes and graph illustration
    Get a customized vaccine schedule.
    baby getting a vaccine
    Know the benefits and the risk
    nurse holding syringe in front of girl
    Should your child have it?

    What To Know About The HPV Vaccine
    24 Kid Illnesses Parents Should Know
    Nausea and Vomiting Remedies Slideshow
    Managing Immunization Schedules For Kids

    Doctor administering vaccine to toddler
    gloved hand holding syringe
    infant receiving injection

    WebMD Special Sections