With the flu season slowly approaching, have you though about getting you flu vaccines?
Influenza common referred to as the flu is highly contagious and the cause of many respiratory illnesses. And in some instances the cause life-threatening illnesses such as pneumonia.
So my question is why would anyone go through the pain and suffering the flu ,in this instance can cause us, when we can simply get vaccinated for it?
We live in a time where we are fortunate to have vaccinations easily accessible to us. A time where we are not actively worrying about contracting serious life threatening disease such as measles, meningococcal, Pertussis (whooping cough), Shingles, yellow fever, smallpox and polio.
Prior to vaccination, there was a period where these diseases wiped out hundreds and thousands of people worldwide.
Edward Jenner carried out the first recorded ‘vaccination’ in the year 1796. He did this by infecting a 13-year-old boy with cowpox; it was later discovered that boy also showed immunity against smallpox. Throughout the 18th and 19th century immunisation for smallpox was available to large masses of people, and finally in the year 1979 smallpox was universally eradicated.
So you’re probably wondering what vaccination is exactly and how it works.
Vaccination is when a virus or bacteria is purposely introduced to an organism (in this case a human) in order to prepare the immune system to defend and fight off future infection.
Vaccines take advantage of the body’s innate ability to destroy any disease causing microbes and ‘remember ‘or in other words store a ‘memory’, of how to defend the body from these disease-causing microbes, if they do return in the future. The parts of the body responsible for ‘remembering’ these disease causing microbes are known as the immune system. The immune system plays a crucial in protecting the body against invaders, and without it even your common cold could be deadly!
How this works is, When a pathogen first enters the body, the immune system produces antibodies to defend the body from these pathogens. The host organism will either fall ill or will remain unaffected , purely depending on the strength of the host organisms immune system and in addition to the effectiveness of the antibodies produced.
If the organism is affected by the pathogen and does in fact fall sick, a portion of the antibodies produced during this time will remain in the body. And then be activated if the body is exposed to same pathogen. So this process of ‘remembering’ a particular diseases causing pathogen allows a vaccine to work effectively.
Vaccines are made up of killed, weakened or modified pathogens. They work by deceiving the body into thinking that an infection has occurred when in reality it hasn’t. The vaccine is not powerful enough to cause sickness and prepares invasion, with the assistance of antibodies, against the particular pathogen that the vaccine contains. Therefore as a result the host organism has immunity against the specific pathogen, if or when faced with it in the future.
In the upcoming blogs you can expect to learn more about vaccination and for me to shed some light on the controversy surrounding vaccination.
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http://www.historyofvaccines.org/content/articles/top-20-questions-about-vaccination#10 [Accessed 26 Apr. 2016].. (2016). Top 20 Questions about Vaccination — History of Vaccines. [online] Available at:
NPS MedicineWise. (2016). What is vaccination?. [online] Available at:http://www.nps.org.au/medicines/immune-system/vaccines-and-immunisation/for-individuals/what-is-vaccination [Accessed 24 Apr. 2016].
Wikipedia. (2016). Vaccination. [online] Available at:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaccination#/media/File:Polio_vaccination_in_Sweden_1957.jpg [Accessed 26 Apr. 2016]. IMAGE