Vaccines are biological preparations that offer active acquired immunity to certain diseases. Typically, vaccines contain agents that resemble disease-causing microorganisms. They are usually made from killed or weakened forms of the microbe, one of its surface proteins or its toxins.
The agent stimulates the immune system to recognize it as a threat, destroy it and keep a record of it. This way, the immune system is able to easily recognize and destroy the microbe if it encounters it again.
When the immune system encounters the virulent agent, it recognizes the protein coat of the virus and prepares to respond in two ways. It can either neutralize the agent before it enters the cells or recognizes and destroy the infected cells before the targeted agent multiplies. Some vaccines are given orally while others are given as shots.
A vaccine can be either prophylactic or therapeutic. A prophylactic vaccine prevents or ameliorates the effects of future infections by natural pathogens while a therapeutic vaccine prevents certain diseases.
Vaccines are administered through a process which is referred to as vaccination. Studies show that vaccination is effective in preventing infectious diseases. For instance, in the past sixty years, have helped eradicate smallpox and they are close to eradicating polio. Vaccines help prevent more than 2.5 million deaths annually.
Vaccination has played an important role in the restriction of ailments such as tetanus and measles all over the world. According to the World Health Organization, the licensed vaccines available today can prevent and control 25 different infections.
The Center for Disease Control ha also reported that incidences of bacterial meningitis caused by Haemophilus influenza have reduced by ninety-nine percent since a vaccine against the disease was introduced in 1988. Vaccines that could prevent pneumonia and rotavirus are also available. Researchers are also working to develop a vaccine for malaria.
Vaccines also cause herd immunity. This means that if most individuals in a community are vaccinated against a particular disease, it is less risky for a person who has not been vaccinated to get sick since the vaccinated individuals are unlikely to get sick. When most people in society are vaccinated, the chances of a disease outbreak occurring are minimal.
Although this immunization is an effective means of fighting and eradicating infectious diseases, there are some limitations to their effectiveness. In some cases, protection fails because the immune system of the host fails to respond well or at all.
This usually happens due to clinical factors like the use of steroids, age, and HIV infection. The immune systems of people who have diabetes may also not respond well to immunizations. Another reason why a vaccine may fail to work is if the immune system of the host lacks strains of B cells, which can generate antibodies suitable to react effectively and binding to the antigens that are associated with a particular pathogen.
Although the host can develop antibodies, protection may be inadequate, the antibodies may fail to disable the microbe completely, immunity may develop at a very slow pace or there may be several strains of the pathogen, some of which may not be susceptible to the immune reaction. Nonetheless, even a late, partial or weak immunity may still mitigate an infection and result in lower morbidity, lower mortality rate, and faster recovery.
In order to stay healthy, children need multiple immunizations. For instance, children need hepatitis B and hepatitis A vaccines. These vaccines help protect humans against serious liver diseases. The other essential vaccines include Rotavirus, DTaP, Pneumococcal, Hib, Polio, Influenza, Meningococcal, HPV and MMR vaccines.
There are many myths about the use of vaccines. One of them is that vaccines are not necessary because better sanitation and hygiene can make the disease disappear. However, this is not the case. If vaccination programs are stopped, the diseases that can be vaccinated against such as measles and polio can reappear. Although hygiene and improved sanitation can protect humans from infectious ailments, most infections can still spread.
Another common argument against the use of vaccines in that they have a number of long-term side effects, which are not well known. On the contrary, vaccinations are safe. Many vaccine reactions are often temporary and minor.
Some of them are mild fever and a sore arm. Serious side effects are rare and are carefully investigated and monitored. It is more likely for people to be injured by vaccine-preventable ailments than by vaccines.
For instance, polio can cause paralysis, while measles may cause blindness and encephalitis. Some vaccine-preventable ailments can even cause death. Although vaccines have some side effects, the merits of vaccination outweigh the risks.
Another myth about vaccines is that they cause autism. The study, completed in 1988 and raised concerns that there was a possible link between autism and the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine was found to be flawed.
The journal that published the paper retracted it. The publication of this flawed study sets off panic, leading to reduced rates of immunization subsequent outbreaks of the diseases. A link does not exist between the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and autistic disorders.
There has also been concern that the combined vaccine against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough and the one against poliomyelitis can cause sudden infant death syndrome. The fact is that no causal link exists between sudden infant death and the administering of vaccines.
However, the vaccines are usually administered during the phase of life when infants can suffer sudden infant death syndrome. Note that these four diseases can cause death or disability to babies who are not immunized.
Another common misconception is that it is not necessary to administer vaccines in countries where vaccine-preventable ailments are almost eradicated. Vaccine-preventable diseases are not common in many nations, but the microbes which cause them to continue circulating in certain parts of the world.
Since the world is highly interconnected, these microbes can cross geographical barriers and infect anybody who isn’t vaccinated. Successful immunization programs depend on the cooperation of everyone in the society.
Another misconception about vaccines is that they contain mercury, which is hazardous. The organic mercury-containing compound that is used in some vaccines is known as Thiomersal. This compound is used as a preservative for vaccines, which are offered in multi-dose vials. There is no proof that the amount of Thiomersal utilized in the vaccines poses a health risk.
Some people have also argued that giving children multiple vaccines simultaneously increases the risk of side effects that can overload their immune systems. However, this is not true. Scientific evidence shows that there is no adverse effect caused by giving several vaccines to a child at the same time.
Children are exposed to numerous foreign substances, which trigger the immune response daily. The main advantages of having multiple vaccines at the same time are fewer visits to the clinic and fewer injections. This also helps parents save money and time.
There is also a misconception that the vaccine against influenza is not very effective and that this ailment is just a nuisance. This is not true. The fact is that influenza is a serious ailment which kills three hundred thousand to five hundred thousand people worldwide every year.
Small children, expectant women, the elderly and people who have chronic ailments such as heart disease and asthma are at a higher risk of death and severe infection. The majority of influenza vaccine provides immunity to the three prevalent strains that circulate each season. These immunizations are the best way to minimize the chances of suffering from the severe flu or spreading it. Vaccines are an important aspect of health care.