The defining moment of the year 2020 and possibly even the past decade, was, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic. As the year comes to an end, people across the globe are eagerly awaiting some good news, amidst the gloomy happenings of unemployment, loss of life, declining health, in the form of an effective vaccine to prevent coronavirus infection. Naturally, the vast population worldwide hope that post taking the shot, they can resume living life as it were in the pre-lockdown era. However, as news updates surface every day proclaiming numerous side effects in people volunteering for the COVID vaccine trials, the levels of nervousness, stress and anxiety in people of all age groups tend to shoot up again.
Also Read: Coronavirus: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
Nevertheless, before the preventive agents to stave off COVID-19 are officially launched to the general public, it is essential to gain insight into the fundamental facts about vaccinations and how they deliver lifelong immunity against certain infectious diseases. Also, instead of plunging into panic mode right away, due to the unveiling of a safe, efficacious COVID vaccine being postponed, it is imperative to understand the manner in which the human immune system reacts to a vaccine. Individuals must also comprehend why it is not uncommon to experience some minor contraindications after a vaccine has been administered in the body. Read on, to discover all the salient details regarding vaccines.
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Types Of Immunity In Human Beings:
The immune system consists of a massive collection of cells, tissues and organs, that fight against numerous microbial pathogens like bacteria, viruses, parasites as well as other foreign particles invading the body. There are two types of white blood cells or leukocytes, called phagocytes and lymphocytes. Phagocytes are classified into neutrophils, monocytes, macrophages and mast cells, while lymphocytes are divided as B lymphocytes and T lymphocytes, with each kind of leukocyte combatting specific types of pathogens. These leukocytes, upon identifying a harmful element entering the body, become activated, attack those objects and shield the system from disease.
The immunity that is developed in the human body is of three distinct types:
These are the defence barriers that are present in the system right from birth, such as the skin, mucous membranes in nasal, throat passages and the stomach. These thwart some detrimental external agents and in case any element surpasses this guard system, then adaptive immunity is stimulated.
This protection is derived from the mother, via the placental fluid in the developing foetus and through breast milk in the newborn child, that safeguards the baby from infection in the first few months post-birth.
Adaptive Immunity Or Acquired Immunity
This category of immunity is the one associated with diseases and vaccines. When the body is affected by a certain illness or is given a particular vaccine, then the immune system that attacks those pathogens stores the event in its memory. In this manner, the specific ailment can be completely prevented, the next time that the same disease-causing agent attacks the body.
What Is A Vaccine?
In the field of medicine and healthcare, a vaccine is defined as a preparation comprising living or biological components that are delivered to the human body using injections, to introduce the contents into the bloodstream. It imparts acquired immunity to a certain kind of infectious disease, like measles, hepatitis, polio etc. It is made up of a live substance very similar to the harmful germs, like a weakened form of the microbe, the poisonous secretions produced by it or the proteins it expresses on its outer surface.
How Does It Work?
As the vaccine containing the protein code i.e. antigen is injected into the bloodstream, the white blood cells or leukocytes begin to synthesize complementary antibodies for the same. These are compounds that neutralize the toxic effect of antigens in the microorganisms, by inactivating the proteins in them. Since the strain of the microbial pathogen in the vaccine is very weak, it induces adaptive immunity in the human system without making the person fall ill. Therefore, the next time the same pathogen attempts to infest the bloodstream, the body is ready and prepared for the assault, with already formed antibodies to defeat the microbes and avert infection.
Also Read: World Immunization Week: Know The Power Of Vaccines
What Are The General Side Effects Of Vaccines?
First and foremost, it is necessary to keep in mind that the majority of vaccines do not cause any alarming side effects. Experiencing minor pain, sore sensations and slight redness at the part of the body where the shot was given is a usual occurrence and these tend to disappear on their own after a few days.
Other common side effects of vaccines include mild fever, fatigue, muscle strain, joint pain, chills and headaches, which are not any cause for concern and gradually fade away within a week. The reason this happens is that, although the vaccine only contains a weakened strain of the pathogen, the body’s immune response is abruptly activated. This leads to a rush of white blood cells or leukocytes to the site of injection and hence prompts some minor responses in the form of fever, headaches and muscle pain.
List Of Vaccinations Recommended By Doctors:
Children below the age of 12 must be given BCG, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, polio, DTP – Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis, MMR – Measles-Mumps-Rubella and chickenpox vaccinations.
Adults require vaccines for hepatitis A, hepatitis B if not already administered in their childhood, as well as pneumonia, tetanus and specific flu vaccines depending upon the what kind of illness occurs widely in the location where they live, as well as other risk factors.
Pregnant women, middle-aged persons and the elderly should consult with their physicians to determine if and what specific vaccines they may need to be given, based on any underlying disease and their overall health status.
Moreover, people suffering from chronic conditions like diabetes, heart problems, as well as normal individuals and those with a family history of any disease ought to seek professional advice from their healthcare providers, on whether and what additional vaccines they may require. Thus, the complete wellbeing of a person is preserved and enhanced, by employing the valuable, preventive products – vaccines.