Here’s what you need to know about vaccinations

The body’s immune system plays a vital role in fighting diseases, and in most cases, it is able to do this job successfully. However, certain types of pathogens can overpower the immune system, causing severe illnesses. Typically, the infections that the body hasn’t encountered before are more likely to cause issues. Here’s where vaccinations come into the picture. It is a preventive measure that trains the immune system in advance so that it can identify and eliminate any harmful bacteria and viruses that attack the body.

Vaccinations have helped medical professionals tackle and eradicate some life-threatening diseases, such as polio and measles, from most parts of the world. It is essential for one to get immunized, not just to protect themselves but also the people around them. This concept is termed as herd immunity, where widespread vaccinations lower the chances of spreading the disease to a susceptible individual.

How do vaccinations defend the body?
The immune system is made up of several antibodies that detect and get rid of any damaging pathogens. However, if the pathogen is new, the body might find it difficult to recognize the invader. Vaccinations teach the immune system to discover and isolate new diseases, by exposing the body to a safe version of the pathogen. Here are some common types of vaccinations used.

  • A sugar or protein from the pathogen’s makeup
  • A dead or an inactivated type of pathogen
  • A weakened form of the pathogen
  • A toxoid comprising the toxin created by a pathogen

Vaccinations encourage one’s immune system to produce antibodies against the antigens attacking the body. Moreover, it helps the immune system to remember the antigens that can cause an infection, enabling a quicker response to deal with an actual infection in the future.

Normally, vaccines are administered using an injection in two parts. The first one is the antigen, a piece of the disease that the body has to be taught to identify. An adjuvant is the second part of the vaccination that delivers a danger signal to the immune system, causing the body to strongly react to the antigen. This occurs because the immune system considers it to be an actual infection, helping one develop immunity against that particular disease.

Are vaccinations safe?
A vaccine is closely studied and meticulously tested several times before it is released in the medical centers for general public’s use. In simple words, yes vaccinations are safe. There might be side-effects, but they are usually mild and subside within a few days. Severe side-effects are rare, but they might affect people with allergies or weak immune systems. Therefore, it is imperative that one consults their doctor before receiving any immunizations.

Are vaccinations 100% effective?
Vaccinations are highly effective in most cases, however, no type of vaccine is 100% effective. The rate of success varies from vaccine to vaccine. For instance, flu vaccines are expected to lower the risk of infection by 40% to 60%. Such vaccines are designed by researchers based on the strain that is most likely to be rampant in the coming flu season. On the other hand, vaccination for measles is effective in 98% of the cases when it is properly administered.

 

84 comments