Vaccinations: How they Work

Many diseases have been almost completely eliminated from developed countries. These diseases still exist, however, vaccinations have limited their prevalence. Laws are put into place to enforce vaccination schedules for children. These vaccination routines ensure offer repeats of some vaccinations until maximum immunity is reached. Each one is different, yet accomplishes the same goal. Vaccines use the body’s natural immune response to provide protection against disease.



Vaccines are formed with the actual illnesses that you are trying to avoid. The virus or bacteria can be live or inactive in a vaccine. Live vaccines contain a version of the illness that is weak in comparison to the full-blown disease. Most vaccines house inactive pathogens. Since these have to be massed produced to protect millions of people, preservatives are often added. Recent controversy has led to minimal use of the standard preservative, thimerosal. Aluminum is another commonly used ingredient. Some vaccines are made by adding a toxin that is then weakened with a chemical. These types of vaccines combat things like tetanus, and diphtheria. The original toxin is made by a protein from the disease. The type of formation depends on the activity of each individual illness.


Your body is an expert at achieving immunity from invasive viruses and bacteria. When germs enter the body, your immune system gets to work immediately. Germs are considered intruders and are promptly attacked. The illness multiplies fast enough to give you symptoms while your body is producing proteins called antibodies. Once you are well, these antibodies remain in your system and remember the invading pathogen, preventing future infection from the same germ.

Vaccinations build immunity by jump-starting an immune response when you are well. The dead or weakened virus enters you bloodstream and is attacked the same way as a live virus. The body builds an immunity before it is ever exposed. Many vaccinations are done before a child enters the school system to build immunity prior to any possible exposure.


A certain amount of vaccine is required to reach full immunity. The vaccines are often spread out over weeks, months, and sometimes years. The proper response may not be accomplished when doses are missed. Pediatricians supply the schedule to parents when shots first begin, often at only a few weeks old. Some vaccinations are considered to accomplish lifetime immunity, while others require boosters when children reach adulthood. Flu and pneumonia may be given annually, as well. The pathogens responsible for these often change, negating a previous year’s vaccine.

Vaccinations have removed the fear of diseases that often have long-term effects. Pathogens are killed or weakened in the lab to make vaccinations safer. Once they are prepared into vaccines, children receive a series of shots meant to help the body build antibodies. Vaccinations mimic viruses and bacteria and help to put the body’s immune system on alert for intruders.

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