The Importance Of Vaccination
Vaccination has become the pinnacle of medicine in the modern scientific world. Vaccination allowed diseases such as smallpox and poliomyelitis (polio), diseases that once caused high mortality rates for children, were either eradicated or reported cases have substantially decreased. Vaccination could be seen as the greatest success for public health. This is why it is important to develop an understanding about vaccination especially now as we’re going through a global pandemic due to COVID-19. It is also important to know facts from fiction as due to growing online media platforms misinformation about vaccination is being spread around which sparks public distrust in the health care system along with the growth in Anti-Vaxxers.
To properly understand the effect vaccines have on the body and how they work we first need to understand how our own body works. In our bodies, we contain a complex defensive system called the immune system. The immune system protects our body from foreign substances called antigens and can neutralise toxins. The immune system comprises of cells called white blood cells which protect our body from antigens. They’re serval types of white blood cells but the two most common types are Lymphocytes and neutrophils. When a foreign substance invades your body white blood cells called macrophage are considered as the first line of defence as when antigens attack the body they are able to destroy the cells by taking them into their cell membrane and breakdown the cells with enzymes. If the macrophages aren’t able to eliminate the cells fast enough the macrophages will communicate with neutrophils which targets and kills bacteria however they also attack our own cells which is why they have a short life cycle of only a couple of days. If the antigens aren’t killed off, dendritic cells which are considered as the brain of the immune system come into play. The dendritic cell’s job is to collect parts of the antigens and contact lymphocytes cells called T-Lymphocyte cells and B-Lymphocyte cells also known as B and T cells. The T cells go on to bind with the parts of the antigens from the dendritic cells to form killer T cells. Some of the T cells go on to work with B cells by activating them to make antibodies. Antibodies are proteins produced by the body, antibodies recognise and latch on to the antigens which kills or disables them which helps the other cells kill the disabled antigens. When the immune system has defeated the antigens T-cells and B-cells turn into Memory T-cells and B-cells which remember the antigens that they fought. These cells lives in our bodies for a very longtime. They stay in a passive mode that will quickly recognise if the same antigen ever invades our body again they will quickly make antibodies that stops the invasion this results in our bodies becoming immune to that antigen. It takes upwards to fifteen days for the body to develop an immunity to a disease which can be too long for more deathly diseases which is where vaccination comes in.
In 1796 a man by the name Edward Jenner observed that milkmaids who contracted cowpox did not get smallpox disease so he put it to the test by injecting a young boy with the cowpox disease and afterwards injected the smallpox disease and what was demonstrated was the boy became immune to the small pox disease. This is why now Edward Jenner is considered to be the founder of vaccination as through this discovery it led to the complete eradication of smallpox in 1980. This discovery spearheaded the development of vaccines which has benefited humanity since its discovery as along with the eradication of smallpox it has also prevented numerous deaths from diseases that once killed thousands but are now preventable. But how does vaccination actually work? Vaccination works by injecting a weakened version of a disease that isn’t as dangerous as the normal version of a virus. By injecting the weakened version of the disease it stimulates our immune system just enough so that our body can fight it off and make memory cells so that in the future where the active version of the virus might invade our bodies we would have antibodies prepared. This is also a lot safer than doing natural immunisation as since it takes up to fifteen days to develop an immunity this might be too late but with vaccination it only takes five days to get rid of an antibody.
Impacts on society
Children are more susceptible to diseases than adults due to their immune systems being weaker and less developed as an adult’s so they are unable to fight off the diseases which is why child mortality reached up to 12 million deaths in 1990. However, since vaccination has been introduced the amount of child deaths due to preventable diseases have seen a massive decrease since 1990. Where the highest infant mortality cases are in developing countries such as Africa which doesn’t have much access to a proper health care system. But there has been a push in helping out developing countries with vaccines by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The individuals that are unable to get vaccinated due to either religious belief or allergic reactions are also able to be protected due to Herd Immunity. Herd immunity is when a large percentage of the population have become immune to a disease which prevents diseases from being transmitted between individuals. This is due to the disease not having enough host to be passed along which breaks the infection chain. This allows people who are not able to get vaccinated to be protected so vaccination not only benefits the individual but also the community. However herd immunity can only be effective depending on how much of the population is immune as some diseases require up to 90% of the population to be immune.
Control/Eradication of Diseases
Disease eradication and or control can be achieved if a high percentage of a population has an immunity to the disease. This is due to the diseases inability to be transmitted from host to host so this allows us to control the disease by isolating individuals with the diseases. By doing so we’d be able to treat them. When this is achieved we can control the diseases and it’ll eventually lead to the eradication of a disease from a population and to achieve this vaccines are important.
As our populations increase so does the demand for resources and when demand increases limited resources prices will of course increase this is especially true for medicine. Medicine for treatments can become quite expensive so with the introduction in vaccines they’re seen as a cost effective medicine as it is a great preventative for illnesses. This is because vaccination prevents diseases instead of treating them. This means that It ensures that health care resources aren’t used to treat diseases that are completely preventable and can go towards something more dire.
- Article: HOW THE IMMUNE SYSTEM WORKS [Last Cited 08/10/2020] https://vaccine-safety-training.org/how-the-immune-system-works.html
- Author(s)- Joana Cavaco Article: WHAT ARE LYMPHOCYTES AND WHAT ARE HEALTHY LEVELS TO HAVE? [Last Cited 08/10/2020] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320987
- Written by The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica Article: ANTIBODY [Last cited 08/10/2020] https://www.britannica.com/science/antibody
- A BRIEF HISTORY OF VACCINATION [Last Cited 08/10/2020] https://www.immune.org.nz/vaccines/vaccine-development/brief-history-vaccination
- Author(s)- Dr. Biology Article: MEMORY B-CELL [Last Cited 08/10/2020] https://askabiologist.asu.edu/memory-b-cell
- Article: UNDERSTANDING HOW VACCINES WORK [Last Cited 08/10/2020] https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/conversations/downloads/vacsafe-understand-color-office.pdf
- Article: WHAT IS HERD IMMUNITY AND HOW DOES IT WORK? [Last Cited 08/10/2020] https://www.pfizer.com/news/hot-topics/what_is_herd_immunity_and_how_does_it_work
- Author(s)- Samantha Vandersllott, Bernadette Dadonaite and Max Roser Article: VACCINATION [Last Cited 08/10/2020] https://ourworldindata.org/vaccination#vaccines-save-lives
- Figure 2-Herd immunity.svg [Last cited 08/10/2020] https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Herd_immunity.svg