Vaccines are often a hot topic in the news as there are conflicting views about whether or not children should receive them. That being said, not everyone is a doctor and, therefore, might not have access to critical information pertaining to vaccines.
To start off, it’s important to know what vaccines are.
What Are Vaccines?
Simply put, vaccines contain a weakened version of the same germ that causes a disease, or contains only a portion of a disease germ. The vaccine will stimulate the immune system in order to produce antibodies, as if the body were actually exposed to that specific disease.
Vaccines are often administered by needle injection, but they can also be administered by mouth or through a nose spray. Once the vaccine is dispensed, the body then develops an immunity to that disease.
What’s important to note about a vaccine is that it’s not a treatment or cure; instead, it’s a way to prevent someone from ever getting the disease in the first place.
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How Do Vaccines Work?
Vaccines teach your body to recognize when a new disease introduces itself by stimulating the body to create its own antibodies. Plus, it primes immune cells to remember which antigens cause infection, allowing for faster responses to the disease later on.
Vaccines expose the body to a safe version of the disease in the form of the following:
Dead or inactivated form of a pathogen
Protein or sugar from a pathogen's makeup
Toxoid containing toxin made by a pathogen
After the body responds to a vaccine, it builds up an immunity, which then helps equip the body to fight off the real infection.
Examples Of Vaccines
Within the world of vaccines, there are different kinds, including the following:
These particular vaccines use only diminished versions of the germs that can cause diseases. Because they’re very similar to the actual infection, they are able to create a stronger and longer lasting immunity. Live-attenuated vaccines can provide lifetime protection against a germ and the disease it causes.
Inactivated vaccines use a killed version of the germ. However, they don’t provide the immunity that’s as strong as a live vaccine. This means that with inactivated vaccines, you may need multiple doses over a period of time in order to provide ongoing immunity.
Subunit, Recombinant, Polysaccharide, And Conjugate
All of these vaccines only use a piece of the germ, and because of this, they give a strong immune response that targets key areas of the mentioned germ. These vaccines also may need boosters to provide ongoing protection against diseases like hepatitis B, shingles, HPV, and whooping cough.
Toxoid vaccines use a toxin made by the germ to create immunity against parts of the germ that cause a disease instead of the germ as a whole. Boosters are necessary with this kind of vaccine as well.
Why Are Vaccines Important For Children?
Now that we have an idea of what a vaccine is and how it works, let’s talk about why vaccines are important, and why we should get them.
Most of the time, the need for vaccines focuses on children, and there are good reasons for that:
Vaccines Can Save Your Child’s Life
Due to advances in medical science, a vaccine can protect your child from more diseases than ever before. Now, because of these vaccines, diseases that have injured or killed children previously have been eliminated entirely or are close to it.
Vaccines Are Safe And Effective
Vaccines are safe and effective because they are not given to children until they are carefully reviewed by doctors, scientists, and healthcare professionals. While vaccines can cause temporary discomfort at the injection site, the inoculation is well worth it. These particular vaccinations are given so as to prevent pain, discomfort, and trauma of what could potentially be a much worse disease.
They Protect Others You Care About
While most children can be vaccinated, there are some who are too young or have weakened immune systems and therefore cannot receive vaccines. To help keep those who cannot be vaccinated safely, it’s important to vaccinate those who are able to. This can protect your own family, as well as aid preventing the spread of diseases to friends and loved ones.
Protects Future Generations
Because vaccines have, in many cases, eliminated diseases that had historically killed or severely disabled many, it’s important to play a role in continuing this trend. Smallpox, for example, is a disease that no longer exists because of the use of vaccines. If vaccinating children continues in this generation, then parents of future generations have the advantage and opportunity to not worry about the same diseases that parents today have to worry about.
While vaccines are important for your child's health, vaccines in children can also protect others in your child's life.
Vaccines And The Elderly
While children are a main focus for vaccines, it is also important for the elderly to get vaccinated. It is well-known that the older you get, the weaker your immune system becomes. The elderly generation is more likely to get common diseases like pneumonia, the flu, and shingles.
While protection from an illness such as shingles or hepatitis B is important, it’s even more vital that these vaccines help safeguard the elderly from potential complications of contracting such diseases.
When it comes to vaccines, we must look at the larger picture. While vaccinating children, adults, or grandparents can help protect those individuals, they also help to safeguard all those around them, as well as future generations.
When there’s a safe and effective tool out there to protect the world from potentially deadly diseases, it becomes one's duty to not only vaccinate themselves, but also to encourage vaccination of those around them.