Today we are going to answer the question of ‘how does immunisation work’ and why it’s important to have regular and seasonal vaccinations. At Sirius Health we promote healthy living and want our patients to know that vaccines work when they are done at the correct intervals. Let’s have a look at the immune system and how you can help your family to stay safe and healthy.
What’s The Difference Between Immunisation And Vaccination?
Vaccines work through the process of immunisation. When you immunise yourself and your children, you can protect your family against harmful diseases. Immunisations strengthen your body’s ability to protect itself, by working with your body’s natural defences or immune system. When you are immunised you are much less likely to contract the illness or disease that you received a vaccine for, and if you do catch the disease, you are more likely to experience a milder strain of it.
The process of vaccination is usually done by injection, or by oral drops, administered by your healthcare provider.
How Do Vaccines Work?
Your immune system is built up every day, as you come into contact with different viruses, germs and bacteria. Essentially, it’s through exposure that your immune system becomes stronger, and is able to exhibit an immune response to these pathogens.
Some examples of immune responses include
When your body is exposed to something like a cold, your body will first try to produce extra mucus to flush it away. It will also use the mucus to try and prevent more of the pathogen from accessing your body.
White blood cell production
White blood cells are a really important component of your immune system, as they are deployed to surround the pathogen so it can’t do further harm to your body.
When your body produces antibodies, their job is to destroy a virus and limit its ability to replicate.
How Does Immunisation Work To Strengthen Your Immune System?
The way vaccines work is to strengthen your immune system, without the presence of an illness or disease. Vaccines make use of weakened or inactive disease so that the body thinks it has had the illness in question. They do this in order to encourage your body to produce the associated antibodies required to fight the disease and to protect you from being infected by it again in the future.
While there is no guarantee that you will not get that illness or disease in the future if you do, it will probably be a milder version of it, and you can expect a faster recovery because you have a stronger immune system.
Vaccine Safety And Efficacy
It is important to note that vaccines work because they are subject to an intensive testing and approval procedure which may take up to ten years in some cases. Their safety has to be well researched before they can be made available for public use, and they are tested across thousands of participants before they are used in the public domain. Only once their safety can be established, are they made available to the general public.
There is a movement that supports the process of natural vaccination, and which believes that allowing the body to catch a disease and develop natural immunity is the way to go. However there is a very large element of risk associated with this approach, because the body’s defence systems have not been developed or prepared to fight the disease or illness in question.
Another major benefit of vaccination, is the fact that it highlights the significance of community health as a collective, and the importance of herd immunity. Remember: you do not exist in isolation, and there are many people in your community who may have a compromised immune system or a reason that they cannot be vaccinated. Having your immunisations means that you are looking out for the health of your family, as well as those people around you who are vulnerable.
What Are The Side Effects Of Vaccines?
In the majority of cases, the side effects of immunisations are limited to the site of the injection and may include some tenderness, swelling and discomfort. This is generally more prevalent in young children but adults may experience them too.
Once vaccines have been released into the public domain they are still subject to ongoing testing, which includes regular clinical trials and surveillance, as well as the monitoring of side effects.
Do Vaccines Work?
Because vaccines don’t guarantee you won’t develop a disease, many people ask, ‘but do vaccines work?’
Each vaccine has its own success rate – in the case of measles, for example, its effectiveness is around 98% according to the World Health organisation. In fact, most vaccines administered to prevent childhood diseases fall into a success range of between 85% and 95%, and even though no vaccine is 100% effective, they do provide the necessary protection that can keep families and broader communities safe from the ravages of a number of preventable diseases.
And that’s probably the most important take-away if you’re going to take something away from this article. Vaccines shift responsibility from being reactive to being proactive. Why wait to become ill, take the risk of severe complications and risk the health and wellbeing of the people around you, when you can significantly reduce your chances by having the required jab? The Australian government estimates that the success of the National Immunisation Program is responsible for preventing up to 2.5-million deaths every year so it really is worth it.
If you want to know more about ‘how does immunisation work’ and how you can strengthen your immune system please schedule an appointment at our clinic. We’d love to help you live a healthier, more responsible lifestyle: (02) 9159 6903.