We are currently in the midst of a pandemic, which has affected over 10.3 million individuals worldwide. For the past couple of months, people across the globe have been praying for a COVID-19 vaccine that will allow things to return to normal. As of today, there is no vaccine for COVID-19 but scientists across the globe have been racing to find one. Given that immunization has been in the spotlight like never before, we at TABIIB, would like to shed some light on how vaccines actually work.
What Is Immunity?
To understand how vaccines work, it helps to first look at the immune system and understand how it reacts to illness. When disease-causing microorganisms enter our body, they invade the healthy cells, multiply, and cause illness. The immune system defends our body by recognizing the germs and making antibodies that destroy them. The antibodies made by our immune system remain in the bloodstream and protect us from suffering the same infection in the future.
How Do Vaccines Work?
According to the CDC, vaccines help develop immunity by imitating an illness. The type of infection introduced into our body through a vaccine doesn’t usually cause illness but allows the body to develop T-lymphocytes and antibodies. Once the vaccine infection goes away, our body is left with a supply of memory T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes, which will know how to fight the same infection in the future.
Apart from protecting an individual, vaccines also play a huge role in protecting the larger population through “herd immunity”. When enough people get vaccinated around the world, the chances of the illness spreading drastically decreases as the bacteria or virus won’t have enough hosts. Eventually, the bacteria or virus will get eliminated entirely as they don’t have modes of multiplication or transmission.
Types Of Vaccines
Over the last couple of months, we have all heard the news about how researchers are using different methods across the globe to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Even though the key to a vaccine is the injection of antigens, scientists often use different approaches to develop vaccines. As of today, here are some common types of vaccines that people receive:
- Live Attenuated Vaccines – In this type of vaccine, a weaker asymptomatic living form of virus or bacteria is introduced into the body allowing the immune system to produce antibodies.
- Inactivated Vaccines – For this vaccine, the disease-specific pathogen is inactivated and then introduced into a human body. In this type of vaccine, the immune system learns about the pathogen through the dead cells.
- Toxoid Vaccines– These vaccines are mainly used for bacterial infections that produce toxins in the body. In Toxoid vaccines, scientists reduce the toxicity of bacterial infections and introduce them to the human body.
- Subunit Vaccines – In this vaccine, only a part of the germ is introduced into the body, allowing the body to develop antibodies without any major side effects.
As of today, there are several deadly infections that can be eliminated easily through vaccination. However, each year globally more than 1.5 million people die of vaccine-preventable diseases. While some people are against vaccination, it is important to get all the basic vaccines to avoid preventable infections. If you have questions or queries about any vaccine, it is always best to consult a doctor.