From childhood, you have heard that prevention is better than cure. It is a fact to follow in real life. In the world of medicine that relates to science and biology, prevention is always better. The reason is that sometimes when we fail to prevent any disease by not preparing in advance, the cure may be unavailable or hard to get. Therefore, it is always wise to avoid certain conditions by planning. Prevention helps when you are in close contact with a person suffering from infectious or contagious disease. In this section, we will talk about Immunization and vaccination as ways to prevent infections.
Diseases are conditions that impair the smooth and efficient working or our body and mind. When we go out for treatment in case of an infection, it is possible that we face some obstacles. The difficulty can be a disease that has completely damaged the body functions beyond recovery, or a person suffering from an ailment is confined to bed as there is no cure or a person suffering from infection is likely to spread the sickness to others as well. In such situations, it is necessary to have some preventive measures in place.
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Immunisation is a process through which a person who is immunised develops resistance to particular diseases. This resistance is developed by administering a vaccine. A vaccine is a dose of specialised medication that stimulates the immune system of a person and helps beat certain diseases. The process of immunisation has proved advantageous in preventing many infectious diseases. It has also contributed to a decrease in the mortality rate. Immunisation is done through vaccines. Today, vaccines are available against smallpox, measles, tetanus, polio, etc.
Immunisation and vaccines are administered to adults and infants through public health programs. In the case of infants, the pediatrician administers regular vaccinations that are set in a schedule.
There are different types of vaccines. Each type serves a definite purpose. The design of each vaccine is that it teaches your immune system how to fight certain kinds of germs and the dangerous diseases they cause. Vaccines are prepared after lots of research in the laboratory. When scientists create a vaccine, they consider the following aspects:
How does the immune system respond to the germ?
Who requires vaccination against the germ?
The best technology to create the vaccine
Depending on these factors, a scientist decides the type of vaccine they need to develop. There are four main types of vaccines-
Live - Attenuated Vaccine – they use a weakened form of the germ that causes disease. These vaccines are similar to the natural infection that they prevent. They create a secure and long-lasting immune response. 1 or 2 dose of live vaccines is enough to give lifetime protection against a germ and the disease they cause. Examples are smallpox, chickenpox, yellow fever, rubella, and measles.
Inactivated vaccines use the killed or dead version of the germ that causes a disease. Inactivated vaccines typically do not provide immunity or protection as strong as live vaccines. One may need several doses or boosters shots over time so that the resistance stays against the diseases. Examples are Hepatitis A, Flu, Polio, and Rabies.
Polysaccharide, subunit and conjugate vaccine use specific parts of the germ like its protein, sugar, or capsid (casing or covering around the germ). As these vaccines use particular pieces of the germ, they give a powerful immune response that targets vital parts of the virus. One may need booster shots to keep the immunity steady. Examples are Hepatitis B, HPV, Whooping cough, Pneumococcal disease, and Shingles.
Toxoid vaccine use a toxin or harmful product made by the germ that causes a disease. These vaccines create immunity against those parts of the germ that cause disease instead of the whole germ itself. It means that the protection or immune response is targeted at the toxin rather than the germ. One may need booster shots to get ongoing protection against diseases. Examples are Diphtheria and Tetanus.
Strong immunity or protection is a way to prevent diseases. This statement is especially applicable to the newborns or small babies, who are yet to get the benefits of a grown-up’s immunity and preventive coping mechanisms against infections. When a baby is born, his or her immune system is not fully developed. It can put a child at a higher risk for infections. Administering vaccines and supplying immunization reduces the risk of infection by working with the natural defense to help develop protection, resistance, and immunity to diseases.
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Q1. Why is Immunisation Necessary?
Immunisation is an effective and simple way to protect the self from diseases. Vaccination works by starting or triggering the immune system to fight certain conditions. If a vaccinated person comes in contact with any infectious diseases, the immune system can respond adequately. This kind of protection through vaccination or immunisation prevents the disease from acquiring a severe state. Immunisation protects adults and infants alike. Talking to a doctor about immunisation is very helpful. Vaccination records help children when they enroll in schools. It means that immunisation is essential for one and all in the community.
Q2. How Does Immunisation Help Infants?
Vaccines help in preventing diseases. The diseases that vaccines prevent can be dangerous and even deadly. When a child is born, he or she has low immunity, and it develops over time. The chances of your child catching vaccine-preventable diseases may be small, according to statistics. However, no parent would like their child to lack protection if they ever need it. The reasons are that a child is exposed to thousands of germs that can be deadly. Vaccines make use of small amounts of antigens to help a child’s immune system recognise and learn to fight diseases. Antigens are pieces of germs that cause the body’s immune system to start their fight mode.