Vaccinations

Vaccinations

The body has a natural immune system to help protect against disease and infections. Most of the time the immune system is efficient, however, sometimes it needs a bit of a boost to help keep the body safe and healthy. This is because some diseases are not recognized by the immune system and overwhelm the body causing serious illness. Getting a vaccination is a way to help teach the body to recognize and prepare against diseases.

Prevention

Vaccinations are a form of prevention that helps the body recognize and learn how to fight against infectious diseases. They are used to help protect people from becoming ill from an assortment of diseases that once threatened the lives of so many. Vaccinations are currently used to fight against the measles, polio, tetanus, and whooping cough. 

Protection

Vaccinations are used to help keep everyone in society protected and free of infectious diseases. When a good portion of the people in a society are vaccinated it helps the overall spreading of the disease. Over time, the more people who are vaccinated, the less of a chance a susceptible person will come in close contact with someone who has been infected with the disease. 

How it works

In order for a healthy immune system to fight against disease, it must recognize the disease as a foreign pathogen. If it does not recognize it, it won’t fight against it, causing a person to become seriously ill. Getting a vaccination introduces the pathogen to the body giving the immune system the information needed to recognize the disease as something to fight against. The vaccination also teaches the body how to make antibodies against the newly introduced pathogens. This helps the body remember the disease and allows for a faster response time in fighting it. 

Vaccination form

There are a variety of different ways to make vaccines, but all work to expose the immune system to potentially dangerous and possibly deadly diseases. The vaccine can come in the form of a protein found within the pathogen or a toxoid made from a pathogen. A vaccine can also be a dead or inactivated form of a pathogen or even a weakened version of the pathogen itself. All of these forms are a way of introducing the pathogens associated with a disease safely into the body. 

Vaccination method

Many vaccinations are given via an injection and most are given in two parts. Part one is the antigen, which the body needs to recognize the pathogens. The second part is the adjuvant, which lets the body know the pathogens are dangerous. Together the two help the body develop immunity to the disease. 

Vaccination schedule

Following a vaccination schedule is important for children and some are given shortly after being born. The schedule offers recommended ages for children to receive vaccinations, as well as how far apart doses should be administered. Following the timeline for each vaccine will help ensure kids have all the vaccinations needed and available by the time they are adults. 

Diseases

Vaccines are available for a variety of different diseases. Common vaccines for children under the age of five include those for Hepatitis A & B, Rotavirus, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Whooping Cough, Pneumococcal Conjugate and Inactivated Polio. Additional vaccines for younger children include Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Varicella. The influenza vaccination is available for anyone age six months or older and should be repeated annually. 

Other vaccinations are available for children ages 11 and older. These vaccines include those for Human Papillomavirus (HPV), and Meningococcal Conjugate. Serogroup B Meningococcal is available for children ages 16 to 18. In addition the pneumococcal vaccine is available for anyone older than the age of 19. It is also recommended that anyone age 50 should receive a Herpes Booster. 

Safety

A common question asked about vaccinations is inquiring about if they are safe or not to use. Vaccines are continuously and rigorously tested to ensure their safety. Each vaccine goes through many rounds of experiments, examinations, study, and research before they are released for public use. Though safe, there are some side effects associated with each one. For the most part, the side effects are mild, but there is a risk of becoming ill from the vaccine. 

Pros and cons

As with anything in the medical field, there are pros and cons to getting a vaccination. It is always important to consider all the factors before getting a vaccination. The biggest pro for getting a vaccination is that they help prevent people from becoming infected with dangerous diseases, which have severely sickened and/or killed people. Another pro is that vaccines not only protect the individual who received it, but also those around them. This is because the vaccinated person does not have the disease to pass along to others they come in contact with. The final pro is a majority of vaccinations are safe and have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

Some of the cons associated with getting a vaccine include the possibility of still getting sick or suffering from an allergic reaction. Those with a weakened immune system often cannot be vaccinated or if they are, they must be closely supervised by a health care provider. In addition, there are some side effects some have reported experiencing. 

Side effects

Most of the side effects associated with vaccines are rather mild and most do not experience side effects at all. Common side effects experienced after a vaccination include pain, redness, joint pain and/or swelling near the injection site. Other side effects may include muscle weakness, fever, sleep disturbances, fatigue, memory loss, muscle paralysis, hearing/vision loss and/or seizures. 

There are some conditions which may increase the risk of experiencing side effects. These conditions include having an already weak immune system, being sick at the time of vaccination, and/or having a family/personal history of reacting to vaccines. Those with any of the above conditions should consult with their primary care practitioner to see if getting the vaccine is the best option. 

Vaccinations are available to help prevent severe illness and help our immune systems fight diseases. There are many benefits to receiving a vaccine, including preventing the spread of potentially deadly diseases. Those with questions about vaccinations should speak with their primary care physician before getting the vaccine.