What is Vaccines
A vaccine is a biological preparation that improves immunity to a particular disease. A vaccine typically contains an agent that resembles a disease-causing microorganism, and is often made from weakened or killed forms of the microbe, its toxins or one of its surface proteins.
The agent stimulates the body’s immune system to recognize the agent as foreign, destroy it, and “remember” it, so that the immune system can more easily recognize and destroy any of these microorganisms that it later encounters.
What are Vaccines?
There are several diseases like Diphtheria, whooping cough (pertussis), measles, mumps, Yellow fever, small pox and German measles (rubella) that are unfamiliar to many these days. However, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, these illnesses struck hundreds of thousands of people worldwide and among these most were children. These illnesses killed tens of thousands of people. Today these diseases are all but forgotten. This change has happened largely because of vaccines.
When to have vaccinations
Here’s a checklist of the vaccines that are routinely offered to everyone in the UK for free on the NHS, and the ages at which they should ideally be given. If you’re not sure whether you or your child have had all your routine vaccinations, ask your GP or practice nurse to find out for you. It may be possible to catch up later in life. Try to have your vaccinations delivered on time to ensure protection. If you’re going to be away from the GP surgery when a vaccination is due, talk to your doctor. It may be possible to arrange to have the vaccination at a different location.
Vaccines and the immune system
When an individual is vaccinated against a disease or an infection, say Diphtheria, his or her immune system is prepared to fight the infection. Once vaccinated when the person is exposed to the bacterium that causes it the body gears up to fight off the infection. This whole battle of the immune system with the invading bacterium is so rapid that most people do not observe or feel the infection at all. Vaccines take advantage of the body’s natural ability to learn how to eliminate almost any disease-causing germ, or microbe, that attacks it. Once vaccinated the body “remembers” how to protect itself from the microbes it has encountered before.
Once a person’s immune system is trained to resist a disease, the person becomes immune to it. Before vaccines, the only way to become immune to a disease was to actually get it and, with luck, survive it. This type of immunity against an illness is called naturally acquired immunity, wherein the person has to suffer the symptoms of the disease and also risk the complications, which can be quite serious or even deadly. In addition, if the disease is contagious it may also be passed on to family members, friends, or others who come into contact.
Vaccines, which provide artificially acquired immunity, are a much safer way to become immune. Vaccines can prevent a disease from occurring in the first place and also decrease the risk of complications and risk of transmission. It is much cheaper to prevent a disease than to treat it.