Knowing what vaccines are!
Truth is, we would have lost an integral part of the world population to diseases if there were no vaccines. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that people understand the significance of it in the present day and be more aware. A vaccine, to be precise, is a part or form of, alive or dead virus that is administered into human body to induce immune response. This is to make the body aware of the infection so that it can prevent the disease in future.
As the antigen is weak or dead or incomplete, it has no power to make the person fall sick.
Understanding human immune system
The white blood cells are important components of the immunity system. These WBCs fight off antigens (Virus, bacteria) and keep a look for any further attack on the body. Antibodies are substances that are produced to fight the virus/bacteria. .
So, when you receive vaccination, your body is on high alert, immune response is invoked and it prepares the body for future infections by remembering the germ.
Is natural immunity better or vaccines?
People get immune to a disease naturally after suffering from it. So, some people may raise the question of vaccines being necessary.
Well, vaccines can prevent the diseases in the first place. It is also a safer option as suffering from a disease to gain immunity against it can result in fatal consequences. Vaccination also protects people with lower immunity from getting infected by just being around a sick person.
Hence, vaccination is always a better choice.
- Live-attenuated: Weakened disease-causing germ as vaccines.
- Inactivated: Killed germs are used. It may need boosters after a few years.
- Sub-unit: Certain part of the germ is used. It may be the casing, sugar or protein.
- Toxoid: Toxin that germs create for infecting humans is used as vaccine.
Are vaccines really safe?
People who have just learnt what vaccines are may ask how safe they are.
Vaccines receive approval only after thorough testing and evaluation in the laboratories. This is done for years before performing clinical trial. Even after a vaccine receives approval, the testing continues till it is proved to be efficacious and safe. These undergo constant monitoring even after being used for many years.
Can good hygiene beat vaccines?
There is no way that good home, public and personal hygiene can stop germs from infecting someone. There are many diseases that spread through air, water, etc. and you cannot prevent these only through good hygiene. For example – Measles is an air borne respiratory disease, a sneeze or a cough can spread it.
Are there any ways to make vaccines long lasting?
Vaccines have ingredients like:
These ensure that vaccines remain effective for a longer time.
Stabilisers like gelatine keep the vaccine intact during the process of making, storing and moving. These are vital since they keep the active ingredients from changing chemically due to temperature changes.
While formaldehydes help to weaken the germ or toxins, neomycin antibiotic keeps the germs at bay.
Relevance of vaccines in modern times
Doctors recommend that new born babies and children below 6 years of age should be given vaccines for about 14 diseases. Some of these diseases have become uncommon due to vaccination drives and hence may raise the question of whether these are necessary at all. Parents often question the need of vaccination under such circumstances. The answer is if vaccinations are not continued, these diseases can return ….like the outbreaks experienced in several countries. Scientists are blaming the recent stoop in vaccination rate for this. Moreover, vaccines protect future generations from the fear of deadly diseases.
Thus, vaccination is very much relevant and essential in modern times too.
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