A body’s natural defense mechanism is the immune system. Most of the time, it works efficiently to fight invading pathogens. However, specific pathogens can overpower the immune system, causing severe infection and illness.
What Are Vaccines?
Vaccines are substances that assist the immune system in fighting against disease-causing pathogens. They are a completely safe and effective method for preventing certain diseases. Vaccines work by preparing the body for exposure to disease-causing pathogens. Nowadays, vaccines help control and prevent a range of severe conditions not just limited to polio, tetanus, and whooping cough.
How Does the Immune System Work?
Pathogenic viruses and bacteria have molecules on their surface called antigens. These antigens encourage the immune system to produce proteins called antibodies. The antibodies combine with the antigens cause the destruction or disabling of the pathogen.
Different pathogens have different antigens on their surface. A pathogen can only be destroyed or incapacitated by an antibody adept at binding to its antigens. These antibodies will only survive if the immune system has come across the antigen in the past.
How Do Vaccines Work?
Vaccines carefully expose the body to pathogens so that the immune system can make antibodies capable of binding to their antigens. This enables the immune system to fight off a specific disease-causing pathogen should it come across that pathogen in the future.
Vaccines work by exposing the body to pathogenic antigens. To do this, they have to contain one or more of the following:
- An inactive or dead type of pathogen
- A pathogen that has weakened
- A protein or sugar that has been derived from a pathogen
- A toxoid comprising of toxin from a pathogen
Vaccine injections contain several other components, including:
- Adjuvants, which make sure that the immune system responds to the antigen as an unwanted raiding body.
- Stabilizers, which ensure that the vaccine remains effective.
- Formaldehyde, which helps stop bacterial contamination during the manufacturing process.
What Are the Various Types of Vaccines?
There are four main categories of the vaccine. These are:
Live Attenuated Vaccines
This type of vaccine contains a weakened form of the disease. Live attenuated vaccines are successful in providing people with lifelong immunity. However, people with compromised immune systems cannot receive this type of vaccine.
They are vaccines in which a dead or inactive form of the pathogen is present. Despite this, the vaccine still stimulates the body to recognize its antigens. A person will need several doses or booster shots of an inactivated vaccine to guarantee its potency.
Conjugate Subunit Vaccines
This type of vaccine consists of an isolated protein or sugar from the pathogen. The protein or sugar trains the immune system to identify and respond to the invading pathogen.
Some diseases cause harm to the human body by releasing toxins. Toxoid vaccines use disabled toxins to help prepare the immune system to fight off live pathogens.
Call San Pedro at (310) 832-6487 or schedule an online appointment to know more about Vaccines.