Immune System and Vaccinations

7 July 2016

Vaccinations have been used since the late 1700s in the United States, and are required for children before they enter public schools today. So what is a vaccine? And why do we have to have them? Vaccinations are a marvel of modern medicine that have saved countless lives, hindered and even eradicated the spread of certain disease and sickness, and are adaptable enough to keep up with new forms and strains of current and well-known diseases.

The literal definition of a vaccine is a “means of producing immunity against pathogens, such as viruses and bacteria, by the introduction of live, killed, or altered antigens that stimulate the body to produce antibodies against more dangerous forms” (“Vaccination”). Put into layman’s terms, this means that doctors take a part of the actual virus or sickness, such as chicken pox, and kill, weaken, or chemically alter it to make it easier for the body to become immune to. It is injected into the body for our white blood cells to “practice” fight with.

Immune System and Vaccinations Essay Example

That way, if and when the actual sickness is encountered, the body knows how to react and fight it off without causing people to get severely ill. There are several types of vaccines that are routinely used in American practice today. Currently, there are seventeen vaccines that are recommended for all adults and children to have (“Vaccination”). Some of these include chicken pox, measles, tetanus, and the influenza vaccines. While some are mandatory for public schools, others are highly recommended but not enforced.

These vaccines are so important because they prevent the spread of contagious diseases, and this in turn has led to higher rates of infants and children surviving to adulthood. Given to children early on, vaccinations for certain diseases like polio (in the US), measles, smallpox, and diphtheria have basically led to their being eradicated from the population (Hunt, Richard). Another advantage of vaccinations is the fact that when culturing bacteria for injection, scientists can project a path of new type of pathogen that may emerge as a result of coming into contact with the vaccine.

This allows doctors to create more aggressive strains to combat them and prevent large-scale outbreaks (W. , Olszewska, Openshaw P. J. M.. , and Helson R. ). As wonderful as vaccinations are, there are still disadvantages to them. Firstly, many things cannot be prevented or treated with a vaccination. There are several types of people that are not very good candidates for effective vaccinations, namely older and very young people, who’s immune systems are not as strong as they should be (W., Olszewska, Openshaw P. J. M. , and Helson R. ).

However, even for healthy candidates, vaccinations are not foolproof. Some can cause terrible side effects, or even the sickness itself can occur, the strain may be ineffectual, and not following a proper booster schedule can cause decreased immunity. While various downsides are possible in vaccinations, the good outweighs the bad. Science is always growing, adapting, learning, and changing to accommodate the needs of our generations.

Vaccines have worked astronomically to help prevent, cure, fight, and sometimes completely eradicate deadly viruses and diseases. While there are current debates on whether or not young children should be given vaccine or should be exposed to a certain virus itself, such as chicken pox, the evidence and testimony from the majority of medical professionals and officials clearly advocates for vaccinations and boosters in all cases. The importance of this wonderful modern medicinal prevention and treatment cannot be overstated.

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