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Vaccines have a vital role in keeping our bodies healthy. According to the world health organization (WHO), a vaccine refers to a biologically prepared substance for improving immunity towards a certain disease. Vaccines consist of an agent resembling a microorganism that causes a disease and is repeatedly created out of weakened microbe or from its surface proteins. The agent in the vaccine triggers the immune system to acknowledge a foreign agent, attack it, and recall it such that the body’s immune system will easily realize and destroy theses microorganism in future. The aim of this study is to understand vaccines and several aspects associated with it.
How Vaccines Work
The natural body’s defense against germs is the immune system. If a pathogen or germ attacks, special cells are sent to fight them by the immune system even though at times it is not strong enough to intercept a disease from killing or harming somebody. Thus, a vaccine is the only way of boosting the system. Vaccines work through infection imitation. The safeguarding system is tricked by the vaccines to make a memory of a germ without fighting the actual germ initially. Once the immune system comes across the actual pathogen, it becomes ready to destroy it and thus the vaccinated individual does not fall sick.
Additionally, bodies are designed to fight external invaders. To carry out this task, it must distinguish the external agents (nonself) with the self-elements. To realize this, the body’s protection system is always watching out for antigens. Pathogens are unfamiliar to human bodies because of the tiny particles covering them. Therefore, the immune system is able to bring out its squad to attack the antigen (Parham, 2014). When a pathogen finds its way into the body, the system releases special molecules called “the antibodies”. The antibodies are Y-shaped proteins that patrol for certain antigens. If they come across the antigens designed to deal with, they start the fight in two ways. First, they disarm the threat through locking. Such locking stops further harm by germs. Secondly, they signal the other immune system cells to go to the infection site. The other immune cells are responsible for destroying the germs as well as removing them out of the body. The whole process takes several days from the day of encountering new germ.
When an infection is dealt with, it is never forgotten. A memory of the pathogen is stored where the memory cells design the antibodies to lock up the specific germ's antigens. In case of a subsequent entrance, the new antibodies will recognize them immediately and a direction to destroy and remove them from the body will be issued by the immune system. Such protection is referred to as immunity and it is through it that a child who once was infected with a disease (e.g. chickenpox) will not experience again.
Traditional Vaccines Making Methods Vs Biotechnology Techniques
Even though the currently available conventional vaccines are quite successful, they have some shortcoming in hampering the development of future vaccines. Vaccine development is among the important contributions made by immunology to public health and medicines. Traditional vaccines were based entirely on microbial agents causing disease. They comprised of living or killed attenuated organism that leads not to infection but has the capacity to induce protective immunity. Regardless of the huge achievements, there are many disadvantages experienced by the current procedures for preparing vaccines.
To begin with, there exist difficulties in preparing enough materials for producing vaccines when viruses are not cultivated in vitro (Ndao, 2009). Secondly, regarding safety measures, there are difficulties in approximating enough attenuation of preparing vaccines and the likely risks of exposure to a vaccine and those producing the vaccine. Finally, there are virus genetic variations resulting in new strain development with distinct serological specificity.
On the other hand, current biotechnology is more considered for developing vaccines because they are not grounded fully on the organism. For example, the recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid technology is used to produce the appropriate microbial defensive protein antigens (Josefsberg & Buckland, 2012). Secondly, there is the application of recombinant DNA method to produce live vaccines through the introduction of appropriate genes, into an adequate vector's genome. Thirdly, the current technology utilizes naked DNA vaccines comprising of plasmid DNA upon which the appropriate microbial agent gene is inserted. Finally, it utilizes the synthetic peptide which has the applicable protective epitope.
Disease Routinely Vaccinated Against in the US
Vaccination at childhood is among the most effective strategies for controlling diseases. In an effort to lower the childhood mortality and morbidity rates, the following are the diseases vaccinated against in childhood. Diphtheria, tetanus, smallpox, paralytic poliomyelitis, rubella, and mumps (Ventola, 2016).
Vaccinations Impact on Diseases for the Past 100 Years
Vaccination has become one of the successful procedures introduced in medical cases. A lot of lives has been saved and cannot be compared to other interventions. The likelihood of serious negative reactions remained low with all modern vaccines. The nine most common diseases that are vaccine-preventable were controlled and eliminated within the developed countries and the same success is evident in the developing nations. Similarly, the USA has witnessed a 99% reduction in all diseases that receive vaccination with a similar reduction in mortality rates (Andre, 2008). Morbidity linked to smallpox declined by 100%.
Why Some Parents Are Worried About Giving Their Children Vaccines
Parents denying their children vaccines have been a growing concern due to the prevalence of vaccine-preventable diseases. Several reasons are responsible for these refusals. First, due to personal beliefs, some of the parents argue that a child’s natural immunity is better than an immunity acquired from being vaccinated. On the other hand, parent’s belief that the diseases vaccinated against are rare and their children are at lower risk. For such reasons, they assume the adverse effect of vaccination outweighs the benefits (McKee & Bohannon, 2016).
Secondly, parents are concerned about their children’s safety. Many parents argue that several vaccines administered to their children will overwhelm their immune system. Thus this fear causes them to delay vaccination with the intention of ensuring the child is not immunized severally during a given time. Others argue that delaying is better as compared to missing all. From the mass media and social media, parents have received information and stories that certain vaccine causes autism, damages the brain, and/or results to behavioral problems. Another parental safety concern is that the side effects are more than benefits (McKee & Bohannon, 2016).
Thirdly, parents decline vaccination due to religious reasons. Religious beliefs are different from other cited reasons. Decisions based on religious beliefs are a result of deeper convictions. Parents driven by religious reasons completely refuse all vaccines. On one hand, they argue that the supernatural being is the source of healing. On the other hand, others oppose because of certain components that are present in the vaccine (McKee & Bohannon, 2016).
Finally, a number of parents are in dire need of additional education. They are reluctant to vaccines because they want more information about the vaccine so that they can make informed choices on their kid’s healthcare. Many are in need of understanding the risks and the benefits of each vaccine. Lack of information from the right person or service provider, and the acquiring of the message from the wrong people and media leads to wrong choices.
Is there Scientific Evidence to Support the Worries?
In regard to the child's immune system being immature or lowered, there is no scientific evidence to support. Delaying or denying vaccines increases febrile seizures risk. Similarly, spacing vaccines are never safe. Close examinations and research are carried out before making recommendations. In regard to vaccines having harmful components, it is important to note that most of them are water mixed with antigens. While Ethyl mercury does not stay in the body, thimerosal a feared element was done away with in infant vaccines. Pertaining to the supernatural healing ability, it should be noted that vaccines play a vital role in disease prevention and should be complimented. Vaccines do not overload children protection system (Stowe et al., 2009). However scientifically, moderate and mild adverse effects may be experienced but serious side effects are rare.
Advice on Getting Recommended Vaccines
Vaccination policies are aimed at producing immunity towards preventable diseases. Apart from protecting a person from falling ill, vaccination aims at providing society with herd community. Every year, two to three million deaths from tetanus, measles, and diphtheria are prevented by vaccination. Diseases that are vaccine-preventable still pose a threat to society. Children are infected, hospitalized and some die. Vaccines are both effective and safe and their administration protects the ones you care about. Failure to receive vaccination can spread a disease from one person to another who has a weak immune system. Strong credible organizations such as the AAM (American academy of pediatrics) and the CDC (centres for disease control) are in support of protecting kids using the recommended vaccination.
Andre, F. E., Booy, R., Bock, H. L., Clemens, J., Datta, S. K., John, T. J., ... & Santosham, M. (2008). Vaccination greatly reduces disease, disability, death, and inequity worldwide. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 86, 140-146.
Josefsberg, J. O., & Buckland, B. (2012). Vaccine process technology. Biotechnology and Bioengineering, 109(6), 1443-1460.
McKee, C., & Bohannon, K. (2016). Exploring the reasons behind the parental refusal of vaccines. The Journal of Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 21(2), 104-109.
Ndao, M. (2009). Diagnosis of parasitic diseases: old and new approaches. Interdisciplinary perspectives on infectious diseases, 2009.
Parham, P. (2014). The immune system. Garland Science.
Stowe, J., Andrews, N., Taylor, B., & Miller, E. (2009). No evidence of an increase of bacterial and viral infections following measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. Vaccine, 27(9), 1422-1425.
Ventola, C. L. (2016). Immunization in the United States: Recommendations, barriers, and measures to improve compliance: Part 1: Childhood vaccinations. Pharmacy and Therapeutics, 41(7), 426.
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