Vaccination, Explained!

A girl receiving a vaccine.

Exploring the answers to common questions

How do vaccines work? Why does getting a vaccine sometimes make you feel sick? What are antibodies, and how does your body make them?

It’s normal to have questions about the complex science of vaccination, viruses and immunity. That’s why our researchers have set out to answer some of the questions we hear most often from our Science Centre visitors.

In this series of videos, we’ll explore what happens in your body when you get a vaccine, how viral mutation works, and the power of antibodies.

What happens after you get a vaccine?

Have you ever felt pain, fever or fatigue after getting a vaccine? You’re not alone! Find out what’s happening inside your body as your immune system learns how to protect you from a virus.

What happens when viruses mutate?

Have you ever wondered why you need more than one dose of some vaccines? One reason is viral mutation. Learn how some viruses mutate faster than others, and find out how another dose can help keep you—and everyone else—healthier.

What happens when antibodies come into play?

How do vaccines help prepare your immune system for encountering a virus? Let’s talk antibodies! Explore how antibodies come into play and learn how vaccination gives your immune system a head start.

Further Viewing

Check out these videos to learn more about vaccine development, emerging variants, community immunity and more.

Strand A : STEM Skills and Connections
A3.1 describe practical applications of science and technology concepts in their home and community, and how these applications address real-world problems
Strand B : Life Systems
B1 Analyse impacts of various social and environmental factors, human activities, and technologies on human health
B1.1 assess effects of a variety of social and environmental factors on human health, and describe ways in which individuals can reduce the harmful effects of these factors and take advantage of those that are beneficial
B2 Demonstrate an understanding of the structure and function of human body systems and interactions within and between systems
B2.1 identify systems of the human body, and describe their basic function
B2.3 describe interrelationships between human body systems
Strand B : Biology
B1.3 describe public health strategies related to systems biology (e.g., cancer screening and prevention programs; vaccines against the human papillomavirus [HPV] and measles, mumps, and rubella [MMR]; AIDS education), and assess their impact on society [AI, C]
B3.4 explain the primary functions of a variety of systems in animals (e.g., the circulatory system transports materials through the organism; the respiratory system supplies oxygen to and removes carbon dioxide from the body)
B3.5 explain the interaction of different systems within an organism (e.g., the respiratory system brings oxygen into the body, and the circulatory system transports the oxygen to cells) and why such interactions are necessary for the organism’s survival
Strand B : Biology
B3.4 explain the general function of some of the systems in the human body (e.g., the function of the circulatory system is to transport materials through the body; the function of the digestive system is to absorb nutrients; the function of the respiratory system is to bring oxygen into and remove carbon dioxide from the body)
B3.5 describe the interaction of systems in the human body (e.g., the respiratory system brings oxygen into the body, and the circulatory system transports the oxygen to cells), and explain why these interactions are necessary for survival
Strand C : Microbiology
C3.5 describe how different viruses, bacteria, and fungi can affect host organisms, and how those effects are normally treated or prevented
Strands B and C : Medical Technologies and Pathogens and Disease
B2 investigate the uses of, and analyse the information provided by, a variety of medical technologies;
B3 demonstrate an understanding of the function and use of a variety of medical technologies and the information they provide about the human body
C1 evaluate the impact of scientific and technological knowledge and individual behaviour on the control of pathogens and the prevention of disease;
C2 investigate the nature and growth of pathogens and the effectiveness of measures intended to prevent their spread;
C3 demonstrate an understanding of pathogens, the diseases they cause, and ways of controlling their spread.
E3 demonstrate an understanding of major public health issues, past and present.
Strands A and C : Determinants of Health and Healthy Communities
A1.3 explain how personal health practices, health knowledge, and healthy behaviours and attitudes contribute to the protection and improvement of an individual’s health
C2.3 explain how government policies and programs for protecting the environment can also provide community health benefits
C3.1 describe actions that individuals can take that contribute to the health of others
This project was funded in part by a financial contribution from the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Public Health Agency of Canada Agence de la santé publique du Canada