If you’ve been listening to the news lately, you’ve probably seen the headline that some companies are in the final stages of testing the COVID-19 vaccine and are preparing to distribute it towards the end of the year. ..
Vaccines are first given to people at highest risk of getting the virus, such as front-line healthcare workers, caregivers and staff. There are a lot of unanswered questions about vaccines and not all of them, but I found it helpful to understand how vaccines work in the body.
First, it is important to understand that the body has its own defense system against infections and illnesses, the immune system. The immune system is made up of various cells and proteins throughout the body that fight infection. Humans actually have three types of immunity: innate immunity, adaptive immunity, and passive immunity.
Everyone is born with innate immunity. This type of immunity provides general protection from pathogens (causes of disease) and includes physical barriers such as the cells that make up the immune system and the skin.
Adaptive immunity develops throughout life when exposed to the disease either naturally or through vaccines. Passive immunity occurs when someone acquires immunity from another source. For example, breast-fed newborns temporarily gain immunity from several illnesses to which their mother is exposed.
For the purposes of this article, let’s focus on how adaptive immunity, the immune system, and vaccines work.
The immune system plays an important role in adaptive immunity. This system is made up of different types of cells found throughout the body. White blood cells help the body remember and destroy pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and toxins that cause illness and illness.
B lymphocytes are responsible for producing antibodies after the body’s initial exposure to the pathogen. Antibodies may take days or weeks to develop, but they stay in the body and provide immunity to the disease or regaining the disease.
An example of this is chickenpox — if someone gets this illness, they usually don’t get it again.
Now let’s talk about the role of vaccines in adaptive immunity. The general idea behind vaccines is to introduce a non-hazardous, weakened, or inactive version of a pathogen, including some of the antigens, into the body so that the immune system can make antibodies.
Once the antibody is produced, the immune system can protect against disease and react immediately in the event of future exposure. It is important to note that weakened antigens do not cause illness in the vaccinated person, but they may experience mild symptoms such as mild arm pain and low-grade fever that usually subside within a few days.
Some vaccines usually require multiple doses, weeks or months after the first dose. This allows the body to develop and produce memory cells and long-lived antibodies. It is important to get all doses of the vaccine for the vaccine to be the most effective and prevent the disease.
Some vaccines require booster a few years after the first vaccination. For example, for the Tdap vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough), booster immunization is recommended every 10 years. This is to ensure that protection from the vaccine is not diminished.
However, due to certain health conditions, it is not necessary to vaccinate everyone.
These individuals can be protected from illness or illness by what is known as herd immunity. Herd immunity, or “community immunity,” occurs when the majority of individuals in the community are vaccinated, making it difficult for the pathogen to infect and infect others. The more people who are vaccinated, the less likely they are to be exposed to harmful pathogens.
Over the last century, vaccines have helped nearly eradicate some deadly diseases such as polio. In addition, vaccines against diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, flu and measles save more than 2 million lives each year. As of 2020, there are vaccines that help prevent more than 20 deadly diseases.
Although rare, any vaccine can cause side effects. However, it is important to remember that vaccines are continuously monitored for safety and efficacy. Vaccination is the best way to prevent serious illness and not only protects oneself, but also those who cannot be vaccinated.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization are excellent resources for a complete list of vaccines and related information.
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