Updated: Oct 23, 2021
In the history of medicine, vaccines have always played a helpful, and somewhat interesting, role in eradicating many illnesses. 1796, was when the first vaccine was developed, by English physician, Edward Jenner, who manufactured it to protect against smallpox. In a rather risky manner, he figured out that workers who caught cowpox could not catch smallpox, and vice versa. He came to this statement by taking material from a cowpox sore and scratching it into the arm of a healthy 8 year old boy. As expected, he developed cow pox. Dr. Jenner then scratched material from a smallpox sore into the boy's arm. He became healthy again. Jenner named this material “vaccine,” and we still use it today. The word is derived from the Latin term “vacca” meaning ‘from cows.’ Thanks to Edward Jenner, within 200 years, smallpox had been eliminated from the world.
So, what really is a vaccine? A vaccine is a substance, usually a fluid, given to humans and animals to protect them from illnesses. The process of giving someone (or something) a vaccine is called vaccination. The process of protecting someone (or something) from a serious disease is called immunization.
It is quite well known that vaccines do indeed protect you from an illness, but what is not as well know is how. The stratagem of a vaccine is to trick the body into thinking that it’s in danger; and to activate the body's defense system, without the negative impacts that the disease can bring. It is essentially a practice session for the body, as it trains the immune system to fight the virus. There are two ways in which the vaccine is delivered to your body. Immunization can be either active or passive. In active immunization, the components of the vaccine teach the body's immune system to recognize a toxin, virus, or bacteria. This type of vaccine typically lasts for several years. If the antibodies that were formed decrease significantly, then the person can be revaccinated. For example, before a child enters primary school, they must take booster shots, to reform antibodies that might have been decreased previously. Passive immunization involves injecting antibodies made by one organism into the bloodstream of another. This type of vaccine is usually used if an individual’s immune system isn’t working properly, and sadly, it is only active for a few weeks.
* Courtesy of ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher
Most people know that vaccines are ideal solutions to control viruses. Doctors believe that if most of the people in a certain area are immunized against a certain disease, then the illness will occur less frequently. Vaccines are used in three ways.
The most common way is to immunize large groups of people (or animals) against serious diseases in the area where they live. Secondly, travelers often receive vaccines to protect themselves against diseases common in the area where they will be visiting. Yet another way to immunize people, is to protect high risk groups, such as the elderly and the very young, who are at greater risk, should they contract a serious disease.
Despite vaccines helping a huge part of the world's population, they remain controversial. There are some different reasons for why people do not favor this idea. A percentage of the population are unsure about whether or not immunization actually works, and whether or not they want to take the risk. (What risk? You’ll see soon.) Religious beliefs sometimes act as barriers, standing in the way of getting vaccinated. Finally, most people are just flat out untrusting of the medical workers administering the vaccine, and/or the vaccine itself.
You may be one of these people I just described in the above paragraph, and I do sympathize with you. There are multiple risks to getting a vaccine. Even though some of these are quite common, not everyone will experience these symptoms, because they truly vary by person. Some mild reactions include redness and/or soreness around the vaccination site. More adverse reactions include vomiting, high fever, seizure, or brain damage. But don’t worry, as such reactions are exceptionally rare, occurring in less than one in a million people.
Claims have been made that certain vaccines cause certain health disorders, such as autism, speech disorders, and bowel disease. People think they are caused by thimerosal, a mercury containing compound used in preserving vaccines. Even though these claims have been discredited and disproven, fear is generated by these rumors.
Even though it is your decision on if you or your family members get vaccinated, you affect everyone around you. When a sufficient number of individuals in an area are immune to a disease, herd immunity is achieved. That means that even if all these people move around, the pathogen will not spread. When even a small amount of people in a certain area are not vaccinated, it can spread the disease. Your choice affects a lot of people.
So what do you think about vaccines? Yay or nay? Shoot me a message in the contact section in the main menu and let me know!
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