Vaccination – what does it mean exactly?

vaccination

Vaccination is the safest way to protect yourself against an infectious disease. Once you have been vaccinated, you should have the ability to fight off the disease if you come into contact with it.   You will have a level of protection, or immunity, against the disease.​

So how does a vaccination work?

The immune system is a network of cells, tissues and organs that work together to help fight off infection from harmful bacteria or viruses. When a virus or bacteria, invades your body, your immune system recognises it as harmful and will trigger a response to destroy it.

One of the ways your immune system fights off infection is by creating large proteins known as antibodies. These antibodies act as scouts, hunting down the infectious agent, and marking it for destruction by the immune system.

Each antibody is specific to the bacteria or virus that it has detected and will trigger a specific immune response. These specific antibodies will remain in the immune system after the infection has gone. This means that if the same disease is encountered again, your immune system has a ‘memory’ of the disease and is ready to quickly destroy it before you get sick and any symptoms can develop.

Vaccines contain a harmless form of the bacteria or virus that causes the disease you are being immunised against. The bacteria or virus will be killed, greatly weakened, or broken down into small parts before use in the vaccine so that they can trigger an immune response without making you sick. Your immune system will still attack the harmless form of bacteria or virus from the vaccine and will produce antibodies to fight it off.

Infectious diseases are easily passed from person to person and entire communities can rapidly become infected. If a high enough proportion of a community is protected by vaccination, it makes it difficult for the disease to spread because the number of people who can be infected is so small.

This type of protection is known as ‘herd immunity’ and is particularly crucial for some individuals who are unable to receive some vaccines.

How do I know a vaccination is safe?

Before a vaccine can be given to the population it must go through rigorous testing. Like all medicines, vaccines go through many clinical trials, where they are administered and monitored in groups of volunteers. In the UK, the results of trials are then assessed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Once licensed, the vaccine must then be further approved by the MHRA before it is added to the routine vaccination programme. Even once a vaccine becomes part of the vaccination programme, it is continually monitored for safety and effectiveness by the MHRA.

Unfortunately no medicine can ever be completely risk free or 100% effective. However, strong licensing processes and safety tests ensure that the health benefits of medicines being given through the NHS greatly outweigh any risks.

“Immunisation is a proven tool for controlling and eliminating life-threatening infectious diseases and is estimated to avert between 2 and 3 million deaths each year” – World Health Organization

Should you require any further information or would like to speak to a member of our team please call us on: Hitchin 01462 420077 or Luton 01582 579687, alternatively e-mail us on: hichin@healesclinics.com or luton@healesclinics.com


Peter Heale Chiropractor in Hitchin and LutonFrom the team at Heale's Chiropractic Clinics
Over 30 years of helping people in Hitchin and Luton and the surrounding areas of Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire

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