How Do Vaccines Work?


Children receive vaccine either by shots or through nasal spray. Irrespective of how they are given, the principle behind vaccines remains the same. To understand how vaccines work, it’s important to understand how body immune system works.

Body Immune System

When your child’s body is invaded by disease causing organisms, white blood cells are activated and begin making proteins (or antibodies), which create counter offensive attack to help your child stop any infections. After the antibodies are through with their work, they don’t disappear but remain in the bloodstream ready for the return of the same invaders. If the germs re-appear in a few weeks, months or years, the antibodies will still be ready to protect. They can stop the infection altogether or before initial symptoms even appear. This is main reason why people who had measles or mumps in their childhood, never get it again irrespective how frequent they are exposed to similar infectious agents.

So how do Vaccines work?

Vaccines are made from dead or weakened forms of the virus or bacteria responsible for the disease. In other cases, inactivated toxins made by the virus or bacteria are used. When the vaccine is introduced to your child’s body, his or her immune system detects the weakened or the dead germ and reacts as it would when a full blown infection occurred. It makes antibodies against the vaccine. As aforementioned, these antibodies remain in the body ready to react to any new case of the germs’ attack. In other words, the vaccine is used to trick the body into thinking that it is under attack, and makes weapons that provide defense against real infection.

There are certain viruses which changes making the existing antibodies ineffective. That’s the case with influenza virus. For such, vaccination is necessary every year.

Newborns are immune to certain infections simply because they had received antibodies from their mothers. However, the immunity fades in the initial months of life. Accordingly, it’s pertinent to follow immunization guidelines given by your local pediatrician.

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