On April 14, 2014 | All, Pediatrics & Neonatology

A newborn is immune to some infections because it receives antibodies from its mother; this is called “passive immunity“. Passive immunity lasts for a few weeks or months. Ironically, that immunity begins to fade away in the first few months of life. So, it’s very important to follow an immunization schedule.

What is vaccination?

          Vaccination protects you from specific diseases that can make you very sick, disable or even kill you. Vaccines help develop immunity by imitating an infection as it would react when it recognizes and fights the real infection. They trick the body into thinking it is under assault & trigger the immune system to produce its own antibodies (substances produced by the body to fight disease), as though the body has been infected with a disease without actually infecting us and harming us with the disease. This is called “active immunity“.

Thus, vaccination is like a dress rehearsal for your immune system so it is prepared for the ‘real show’.

How does it work?

When germs, such as bacteria or viruses, invade the body, they attack and multiply quickly. This invasion is called an “infection”, which causes the illness.

  • The vaccine contains antigens: harmless substances (such as dead bacteria or molecules) associated with the disease.
  • The body assumes the antigens are the actual disease, and its immune system stimulates white blood cells to activate and create antibodies – proteins that can fight the disease’s bacteria or viruses – the invading organism.

How are vaccines created?

Viruses and bacteria can be produced in the laboratory by infecting cells grown in tissue culture; thereby weakening or attenuating it by growing it repeatedly to carefully select a strain that’s less dangerous. The treated pathogen is then combined with stabilizers and preservatives, to produce a vaccine dose.

Does it have any harmful side-effects?

Seldom, vaccination can cause minor symptoms, such as fever. They are normal and can be expected as the body builds immunity. If a child was given 11 vaccines all at the same time, it would only use a thousandth of its immune system, so it does not harm the baby!

How long is the vaccine effective?

Generally vaccinations provide lifelong protection against a disease, but others need boosting. The duration depends on the disease that is being protected against, the vaccine and the person’s inbuilt immunity.

Some vaccines provide high levels of protection – like MMR provides 90% protection against measles and rubella after single dose. Others are not as effective – typhoid vaccine provides around 70% protection over three years; Tetanus may need boosters.

The antibodies don’t disappear even after their work is done. If these germs reappear, whether it’s a few weeks or many years later, the antibodies are ready to protect & prevent the infection.

Is one vaccination enough to give my child immunity?

The antibodies are very specific. They have been created to combat to a specific disease. The mumps virus, cannot to work against rubella. Thus, one should follow the immunization schedule. Young children are vulnerable to many potentially dangerous infections.

Can vaccination eliminate diseases?

          The disease can be eradicated completely if the vaccination is given to most people, as has happened with smallpox and polio. If enough people in a community are vaccinated, it’s harder for a disease to infect even those people who have not been vaccinated. This is called “herd immunity“.

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