Healthy Living

An Overview of Vaccinations

What are Vaccinations?

Key Takeaways

  • What is a vaccine?
  • What are the types of vaccines?
  • Is vaccination the only way of immunization?
  • How does vaccination work?

There are different vaccines actively used in practical medicine, specifically by pediatricians. Artificial immunization is the greatest achievement of modern microbiological technologies. It has already saved millions of lives all around the world. The production of vaccines is a sophisticated process, one that's kept under constant control by the World Health Organization (WHO).

What is a vaccine?

Vaccines are also called shots, immunization, or needles. They are usually injected into our body with the help of syringes. Some, like Polio vaccine, are given to children in the form of mouth drops.

They are usually fluids containing live, weakened or dead bugs, which get into your child's body but do not let the disease develop fully (only imitate it) as the amount of bugs and their activity are low. There might be a mild form of the ailment observed in the kids with low immune response (fever, enlargement of the lymphatic nodes), but not the characteristic manifestation of all the features of the disease for which your baby was vaccinated.

Sometimes it takes time to develop a full value resistance after the shots, usually from 2 to 3 weeks. And if the immunity has not been formed completely (when the memory cells and antibodies formed and active), and your baby got infected by a bug, the disease may occur but in a milder factors. The explanation for this phenomenon is that all children are different, and the ones who tend not to fall ill from minor contact with the causing factors produce immunity much quicker. In contrast to children who are susceptible to all kind of infections, it takes longer to get immunized.

What are the types of vaccines?

Scientists constantly do research on ways that vaccines affect children's immune system, including the behavior of germs, virus, and bacteria in different climate conditions and zones.

Nowadays, there are five main types of vaccines known to health providers that newborn babies and young children commonly receive:

1. Live, attenuated vaccines - Dubbed as antivirus fighters. They contain live but weakened viruses, which are very similar to those that can provoke the disease in children, but do not develop as full-blown diseases as they are neither as active nor as productive as those ones living in nature. They are perfect coaches for our body's immune system, as they stimulate long-term immunization against such viruses as mumps, measles, rubella, and chicken pox. Nevertheless, not every child can get MMR if their resistance is compromised (e.g. cancer sufferers, HIV carriers).

2. Inactivated vaccines (polio) fight viruses as well, but they are made from dead or inactivated viruses. This vaccine performs differently from attenuated ones. It takes longer to develop a solid immunity to the bug and also requires repeated shots. The polio virus is extremely contagious and fraught with irreversible consequences in the body's nervous system (paresis), thus it cannot be injected into your baby's body in its live form.

3. Toxoid vaccines fight bacteria, which means that such vaccines are created for illnesses caused by bacteria - not viruses. They contain the toxins of the germ, that's why they are called toxoids. When the toxin of the bacteria gets into the body, it develops antibodies that fight against the cause of the disease. For example, DTaP is the toxoid vaccine that contains diphtheria and tetanus toxin.

4. Subunit vaccines contain just some of the fragments (particles) of the germ but not the full form of it. These bits of the bacteria carry some information about the antigen that provokes the development of the immune response in the child's body. The pertussis (a whooping cough) part of DTaP is the subunit vaccine.

5. Conjugate vaccines are created to fight various types of bacteria, such as the Haemophilus influenza (type B Hib vaccine). This sort of vaccine is effective against bacteria that have a special coating on their surfaces, sugar-like (polysaccharides), that push away the antigen and make it impossible for a child's immune system to recognize the infection. Conjugative vaccines are of great help here as they are the link between the polysaccharides and the antigen. By doing that, they help the body memorize the antigen and build a proper immune response.

Is vaccination the only way of immunization?

Vaccination is not the only way of obtaining resistance to various infectious diseases. Natural immunity can be inborn, as we don't fall ill with those infectious diseases found in animals and birds, and then also an acquired one after undergoing an infectious disease. Some of these infections leave a life-immunity which never fades. An example of that is rubella. Some of the antibodies are passed from mother to child while breastfeeding, regardless of how the mother was immunized against the bugs. For example, if a pregnant woman was vaccinated between 27-36 weeks of her pregnancy with DtaP, the baby is protected for another 2 months until the actual vaccination, provided the baby is being breastfed.

How does vaccination work?

The immune system is the one responsible for keeping the body free from diseases. It fights ailments and prevents potential risks that the body might be subjected to. It renders support to the body and serves as defense mechanism when things go wrong.

In order to boost the immune system, vaccinations are imperative. Although it is commonly believed that vaccinations ought to be germ-induced, this is not always true. Some vaccines may not have any version of the germ at all. Either way, the intervention of vaccines help in the production of antibodies required to fight against deadly diseases.

Introduction of vaccines and booster shots to the body serve as a simulation ground to prepare the system for any future attacks by harmful invaders.