Thursday, August 12, 2021

How vaccines work?

Covid19 highlighted the importance of vaccines, but what they are and how they work. let’s find out together.
Before we understand how vaccines work, let us have a look how our body’s immune system works to protects us against disease. We must explain 
How our Immune system works.

Our immune system is made up of a specialized network of organs, cells, and tissues that all work together to help protect us against disease. When a disease-causing pathogen (A pathogen is a bacterium, virus, parasite or fungus that can cause disease within the body) enters our body, our immune system recognizes that pathogen as being foreign or not belonging in the body.

Our immune system responds by making special proteins called antibodies that help destroy the pathogen. Basically what happens is that each pathogen is made up of several subparts, usually unique to that specific pathogen and the disease it causes.

The subpart of a pathogen that causes the formation of antibodies is called an antigen. The antibodies produced in response to the pathogen’s antigen are an important part of the immune system. Each antibody in our system is trained to recognize one specific antigen and our body has thousands of different antibodies.

Most of the time, our immune system can’t act fast enough to stop the pathogen from making us sick. But by destroying the pathogen, it can usually help us get well again. Our immune system remembers the pathogen that made us sick and how to destroy it. That way, if we are ever exposed to the same disease pathogen in the future, our immune system can quickly destroy it before it has a chance to make us sick.

How actually vaccines work?

A vaccine works by training the immune system to recognize and combat pathogens. To do this, certain molecules also called antigens, from the pathogen must be introduced into the body to trigger an immune response. That is why vaccines are made using killed or weakened versions of the disease-causing pathogens or parts of it.

Some vaccines contain the blueprint for producing antigens rather than the antigen itself. Regardless of whether the vaccine is made up of the antigen itself or the blueprint so that the body will produce the antigen, this weakened version will not cause the disease in the person receiving the vaccine, rather it will boost their immune system to respond much as it would have on its first reaction to the actual pathogen.

When we get a vaccine, our immune system responds to the vaccine the same way it would to the real pathogen. It recognizes the pathogen in the vaccine as being foreign and responds by making antibodies to the pathogen in the vaccine, just as it would for the real pathogen.

Our immune system remembers the pathogen and how to destroy it. That way, if we are ever exposed to the disease-causing pathogen in the future, our immune system will be able to quickly destroy it before it has a chance to make us sick.

Some vaccines require multiple doses, which is needed to allow for the production of long-lived antibodies and development of memory cells. In this way, the body is trained to fight the specific disease-causing organism, building up memory of the pathogen so as to rapidly fight it if and when exposed in the future.

What about those who cannot be vaccinated due to some reasons?

Vaccines don’t just work on an individual level, they protect entire populations. When someone is vaccinated, they are very likely to be protected against the targeted disease. But not everyone can be vaccinated.

There will always be a percentage of the population that cannot be vaccinated, including infants, young children, the elderly, people with severe allergies, pregnant women, or people with underlying health conditions that weaken their immune systems such as cancer or HIV. These people can still be protected if they live in and amongst others who are vaccinated.

When a lot of people in a community are vaccinated, the bacteria or virus simply won’t have enough eligible hosts to establish a foothold and will eventually die out entirely. So the more that others are vaccinated, the less likely people who are unable to be protected by vaccines are at risk of even being exposed to the harmful pathogens. This is called “community immunity” or “herd immunity”.

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