Vaccination is one of the most significant medical advancements in the history of humanity. For instance, the eradication of smallpox in 1980, due to vaccination, stands as one of the most significant achievements in global health.
.It has saved countless lives and improved the quality of life for millions around the globe.
Despite the overwhelming evidence and success stories, some still question the importance of vaccines. In this blog post, we will explore the top 10 reasons why vaccinations are essential.
10 importance of immunization or vaccination
Let’s read along;
- Vaccinations Save Lives
Historically, diseases like polio, measles, and whooping cough killed thousands every year. Vaccines have drastically reduced, and in some cases, eradicated these diseases, saving countless lives.
- Protection for the Most Vulnerable
Infants, elderly individuals, and those with weakened immune systems may not be able to receive certain vaccines. By ensuring the majority of the population is immunized, we create herd immunity, which protects these vulnerable groups.
- Prevention is Better Than Treatment
It is much more effective and less expensive to prevent a disease through vaccination than to treat it once it occurs. For many diseases, there is no cure, only treatment for the symptoms.
- Reduction of Disease Outbreaks
When a high percentage of the population is vaccinated, the spread of contagious diseases is significantly reduced, leading to fewer outbreaks.
- Eradication of Diseases
Vaccination led to the eradication of smallpox, a disease that once killed millions. With continued efforts, we can hope to eradicate more diseases in the future.
- Economic Benefits
Vaccination programs are cost-effective. They save societies and governments vast amounts of money in treatment costs and reduce the economic burden of diseases on families.
- Safe and Effective
Vaccines undergo rigorous testing before being approved for public use. Once introduced, they are continually monitored for safety and effectiveness.
- Protection for Future Generations
By vaccinating the current generation, we can ensure that future generations won’t be afflicted by certain diseases. As an example, our children don’t have to worry about polio today because of the vaccination efforts of the past.
- Travel Safely
Vaccination allows people to travel without the fear of contracting or spreading diseases. Some vaccines, like yellow fever, are mandatory for travel to certain parts of the world.
- Promotes Long-Term Health
Vaccinations protect individuals from the long-term complications associated with many diseases, ensuring a healthier, longer life.
Broad category or Types of immunization
With the emergence of new diseases and the effort to eradicate old ones, immunization remains an integral part of public health. It is a powerful tool to prevent illnesses, save lives, and ensure a healthier future for generations.
But did you know that there are different types of immunization? In this article, we will delve into the various forms of immunizations and how they work to shield us from harmful diseases.
Live Attenuated Vaccines
How they work: These vaccines use a version of the living virus or bacteria that has been weakened in the lab. Even though they’re alive, these germs cannot cause the disease in a healthy person.
Examples: Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR combined vaccine), and varicella (chickenpox) vaccines.
How they work: Inactivated vaccines use the killed version of the germ that causes a disease. These types of vaccines usually don’t provide immunity that’s as strong as live vaccines. Hence, several doses over time (booster shots) may be necessary.
Examples: Polio (IPV) and hepatitis A vaccines.
Subunit, Recombinant, Polysaccharide, and Conjugate Vaccines
How they work: These vaccines use specific pieces of the germ—like its protein, sugar, or capsid (a casing around the germ). By targeting these specific pieces, the immune system can recognize and fight the disease if one ever encounters it again.
Examples: Human papillomavirus (HPV), whooping cough (part of the DTaP combined vaccine), and Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) disease.
How they work: These vaccines use a toxin made by the germ that causes a disease. They create immunity to the parts of the germ that cause a disease instead of the germ itself. This means the immune response is targeted to the toxin instead of the entire germ.
Examples: Tetanus and diphtheria.
Messenger RNA (mRNA) Vaccines
How they work: Rather than using the live virus that causes the disease, mRNA vaccines introduce a piece of genetic material that instructs cells to produce a harmless spike protein found on the surface of the virus. This prompts an immune response, creating antibodies to fight the real virus if exposed in the future.
Examples: Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.
Viral Vector Vaccines
How they work: These vaccines use a different virus as a vector. The vector virus is modified to contain the genetic material of the disease-causing virus, prompting an immune response.
Examples: The Oxford-AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccines.
The difference between vaccinations and immunizations
In the world of preventive medicine, terms like “vaccinations” and “immunizations” are often used interchangeably.
While they are closely related, they are not the same. Understanding the distinction can give you a clearer picture of how we protect ourselves against infectious diseases. So, let’s break it down and explore the difference between vaccinations and immunizations.
What is a Vaccination?
Vaccination refers to the act of introducing a vaccine into the body. A vaccine is typically a preparation of weakened or killed microorganisms, such as bacteria or viruses, or components of these microorganisms, like proteins. The primary purpose of a vaccine is to stimulate the body’s immune system to recognize and combat specific pathogens.
When you receive a vaccine, your immune system reacts to the introduced foreign agents by producing specific proteins called antibodies. These antibodies can recognize and neutralize the pathogen if you get exposed to it in the future.
What is Immunization?
Immunization is the process by which a person becomes protected against a disease through vaccination. While a vaccination focuses on the act of introducing the vaccine, immunization is about the result – the protection you gain against an illness.
When you’re immunized against a disease, it means that your immune system can efficiently respond to and combat the infection if you encounter it. In many cases, this means you won’t get sick at all or if you do, you’ll experience a milder version of the illness.
The Link Between Vaccination and Immunisation
- Vaccination = Getting the shot (or oral dose, nasal spray, etc.)
- Immunization = Being protected because you got the shot
It’s worth noting that not everyone who gets vaccinated will necessarily be immunized. For instance, certain vaccines might not generate a strong enough immune response in some individuals, or their protection might wane over time. That’s why some vaccines require multiple doses or booster shots to ensure ongoing immunity.
FAQs about the 10 importance of immunization
See below for some of the answers to the most asked questions about immunizations.
Are vaccines safe?
Yes, vaccines are safe. They undergo rigorous testing in multiple phases of clinical trials before they are approved for public use. Side effects are generally mild and temporary.
Can vaccines cause the disease they’re designed to prevent?
No, most vaccines cannot cause the disease they are designed to prevent. Some vaccines contain live, weakened forms of the virus, but these are designed to not cause the disease in healthy individuals.
Why do some vaccines require multiple doses?
Multiple doses can help the immune system produce a stronger and longer-lasting immunity against the disease. The initial dose exposes the body to the antigen, and subsequent doses strengthen the immune response.
What is a vaccine booster?
A booster shot is an additional dose of a vaccine given after the initial series of vaccines to help “boost” the immune response and ensure continued protection against the disease.
Are there side effects after vaccination?
Yes, there can be side effects, but they are typically mild and go away on their own. Common side effects include pain at the injection site, mild fever, or fatigue.
What are the ingredients in vaccines?
Vaccines can contain a variety of ingredients, including antigens (which can be a weakened or inactivated form of the virus or bacteria), adjuvants (which help boost the immune response), stabilizers, and preservatives.
Do vaccines cause autism?
No, numerous scientific studies have shown that there is no link between vaccines and autism. This misconception has been thoroughly debunked.
My final thought on the importance of vaccination
In conclusion, the significance of vaccinations cannot be understated. These medical marvels have been instrumental in combating infectious diseases, safeguarding communities, and ensuring a healthier future for all.
By choosing to vaccinate, we are not only protecting ourselves but also those around us, especially the vulnerable. In an age of unprecedented access to information, let us champion evidence-based practices and prioritize the health of our global community.
After all, a world that understands and values the importance of vaccinations is a world poised for progress, health, and resilience. Remember, every shot counts in our shared journey toward immunity and well-being.