InfectiousCare

Immunizations

What is a Vaccine?
Vaccines take advantage of your body’s natural ability to learn how to combat many disease-causing germs, or microbes, that attack it. What’s more, your body “remembers” how to protect itself from the microbes it has encountered before. Collectively, the parts of your body that remember and repel microbes are called the immune system. Without the immune system, the simplest illness—even the common cold—could quickly turn deadly.

Traditional vaccines contain either parts of microbes or whole microbes that have been killed or weakened so that they don’t cause disease. When your immune system confronts these harmless versions of the germs, it quickly clears them from your body. In other words, vaccines trick your immune system to teach your body important lessons about how to defeat its opponents.

Vaccine Benefits
Once your immune system is trained to resist a disease, you are said to be immune to it. Before vaccines, the only way to become immune to a disease was to actually get it and, with luck, survive it. This is called naturally acquired immunity. With naturally acquired immunity, you suffer the symptoms of the disease and also risk the complications, which can be quite serious or even deadly. In addition, during certain stages of the illness, you may be contagious and pass the disease to family members, friends, or others who come into contact with you.

Vaccines, which provide artificially acquired immunity, are an easier and less risky way to become immune. Vaccines can prevent a disease from occurring in the first place, rather than attempt to cure it after the fact.

Source: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Talk to your health care provider to learn more about vaccinations. Also, see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site for a helpful schedule of immunizations for children, adolescents and adults.