An Important Tenet Of Human Health
Without vaccines, human health, and the world’s population at large, would be quite different. Early vaccines include the smallpox vaccine in 1796 and the polio vaccine in the 1950s. These saved millions of lives and pushed the envelope to develop new vaccines. Today, vaccines are available for severe viruses like HPV, the flu, measles, pertussis, and more. Almost all vaccines require multiple doses. Staying on schedule is essential to boosting immunity.
Your immune system at work
Viruses and bacteria affect people almost every day. Some can cause severe infections that can be life-threatening. When a virus first enters the body, the body’s immune system works to fight the disease. When the immune system succeeds, a record of the immune response is kept, called antibodies. These antibodies know what to do in the event the virus returns.
Vaccines in a nutshell
With a vaccine, doctors attempt to proactively trigger this immune response by injecting common, dangerous bacteria into the body. The vaccine imitates an infection, without the full-blown dangers and effects. The body responds, creating antibodies, which are then recorded by the memory cells. Once the imitation virus goes away, the memory cells remain. Vaccines are usually:
- A weakened version of the virus, known as a live attenuated vaccine.
- An inactive vaccine. The germ is dead, but the body can still build resistance.
- Toxoid vaccines, or the weakened toxin of the virus.
Why do we need multiple vaccine doses?
The body keeps a record of the antibodies. But these records often need updating. There are a few reasons why this is necessary. With babies, for instance, the immune system is underdeveloped. So the first dose won’t build complete immunity. With age, more doses help build immunity. Some vaccines also wear off, and booster shots are needed to update the memory cells. And in some cases, like the flu, the virus is either too powerful or continually evolves. Multiple vaccine doses help with long-term protection.
Are vaccines just for kids?
Vaccines are not just for children. Adults also need updated vaccines. For instance, 2 doses of the MMR vaccine should be administered between ages 19-64. Other vaccines like varicella, HPV, or hepatitis may need multiple doses. Certain vaccines are needed in multiple doses for persons with specific health conditions or circumstances, like travel. Speak with a doctor to find out which vaccine is needed.
What if you miss a dose?
While vaccines are effective in preventing disease, millions of people around the world miss immunization schedules. Missing the first dose can be dangerous, potentially increasing the spread of harmful diseases. Missing secondary doses, however, are a bit more nuanced. One dose can be effective in protecting against the virus. However, if too much time has passed, the vaccine can lose potency. This increases the risk of future contraction, depending on the disease. Since most secondary doses are booster shots, kids and adults alike won’t have to restart the vaccine process. Following the immunization schedule means protection as quickly as possible.
Steps to make things right
With just one shot, the odds of infection are low. However, these vaccines lose efficacy with time. Complete immunization can fully protect from viruses. Unfortunately, once dormant viruses are now on the rise due to a lack of immunization. But anyone can catch up with the vaccine schedule without starting over from scratch. Make sure to get a clear idea of immunization status. Speak with a doctor for immunization records and get the necessary updates today.