According to different health organisms, vaccines are formulations with viruses that are intended to generate immunity in the body against diseases. This task is usually carried out through the development of antibodies.
Under this principle we could say that basically a vaccine is a biological medicine, made up of microorganisms, which serves to combat other infectious microorganisms.
What are the benefits of vaccines?
Since its appearance and final expansion in the world of medicine, vaccines, together with pasteurization and drinking water, have been one of the elements that have allowed, to a great extent, a series of benefits for man.
Vaccines are responsible for providing our immune system with the necessary tools, preparing it for the fight against microorganisms. Being created with very small amounts of a virus, they expose our body to this bacteria, thus offering our system to recognize and attack the infection.
Vaccines are used to prevent and fight disease
The main use of vaccines is the prevention and treatment of diseases, in order to eradicate them in humanity. Old deadly diseases were eventually prevented with vaccines, becoming common and easily treatable viruses.
Vaccines serve as evolutionary development
Vaccines should not only be appreciated for their medical capabilities, as they also have value in the evolutionary development of man. Its effectiveness has also contributed to the development in the evolution of medicine. Furthermore, it is one of the cheapest and simplest elements to produce to investigate bacteria and observe the response of our bodies.
What diseases do vaccines prevent?
Vaccines have been designed to fight diseases that have spread globally over the years. Right now, given the popularization and expansion of vaccines and the extent of their use, they prevent more diseases than ever before.
Thanks to the world health organization (WHO), it is possible to know the names of the 26 infectious diseases generally treated with this method. Among the bacterial diseases that we can prevent with vaccines are the following:
- whooping cough
- typhoid fever
- meningococcal and pneumococcal infections
- The tuberculosis
While, some of the different viral diseases that we can combat with vaccines are:
- Japanese encephalitis
- Yellow fever
- The flu
- Hepatitis A and B
- The parotiditis
- The measles
How do vaccines work?
By making the body believe that our system is under attack and must defend itself from infection, this “fight” allows our immune system to store information regarding the virus. In this way, antibodies remain in our system that allow us to recognize and eliminate the infection when it is truly dangerous.
Currently there are combination vaccines that allow us to simultaneously immunize our body against a large number of important diseases. They are generally administered intramuscularly and in very rare cases orally.
How many types of vaccines are there?
There are endless vaccines, each designed to combat different types of viruses, however, right now there are four large classificatory groups of vaccines that are separated according to their function and design:
Live Virus Vaccines
These were the first to be used, they work using a weakened form of the virus. Some examples of this type are those used against measles, mumps and rubella.
Killed virus or bacteria vaccines
They are made of a protein or other small pieces of information taken from a bacterium, an example is the one used against whooping cough.
These contain a toxin or chemical produced by the bacteria. They are responsible for making people immune to the effects of an infection, rather than the infection itself. Diphtheria and tetanus are examples of this type of vaccine.
They contain substances created in laboratories very similar to those contained by a bacterium or a virus. The vaccine that is used to combat hepatitis B is one of the best references on biosynthetic vaccines.
Bacterial vaccines are designed to increase our physical immunity against the same bacteria of their composition. These vaccines can be very specific and are directed against a particular species .
In the case of polyvalent vaccines, they also include structures from different viruses, having a broader spectrum of work. Its composition stimulates the immune system, enabling it to generate natural antibodies. Because of this, these vaccines are also called immunostimulants.
Due to the large number of diseases that they can fight, there are a large number of vaccines and of course, each with their respective names, some are:
- Hepatitis B vaccines
- Hepatitis A vaccines
- Vaccines containing DTP
- Vaccines containing Haemophilus influenzae type b
- Meningococcal polysaccharides
- Meningococcal C
- Meningococcal B
- Pneumococcal polysaccharides 23 valent
- Conjugated pneumococcal
- Herpes zoster
- Diphtheria pertussis tetanus for adults
- Injectable polio
- Japanese encephalitis
- Central European encephalitis
- Yellow fever
- Human Papillomavirus Vaccine
The above are just some of the best known vaccines, however, there are many more.
What is the importance of vaccines?
After being born and during the growth process, our body hardly learns to defend itself. Although we have some information and defenses provided by breastfeeding, we do not have protection for all infections.
Vaccines help protect us against many infectious diseases for which we have no recorded information. Without the use of these, many life-threatening or dangerous diseases could lead to death or cause a lifelong disability.
Vaccines: definition for children
Defining a child a vaccine is not easy, but in this case it could be said that it is a chemical substance that enters the body to give us “superpowers”, capable of fighting different diseases.
However, it should be noted that this definition, of course, must go hand in hand with a brief explanation about how vaccines make the infant immune to certain damages that originate inside our organism, and not outside.
History of vaccines
The history of vaccines dates back to China. We can talk about the first vaccine known as the one that was used for the inoculation of smallpox around the year 1000 AD This practice had spread to Africa and Turkey, countries of the Middle East, long before becoming popular in Europe.
By 1721 the inoculation was brought to Europe by Lady Mary Wortly, extending it in the middle of the 18th century. As a result of its extension, the doctor and biologist Edward Jenner coined the term “vaccine” when he created the first known against smallpox, using the virus in cows, variola vaccina.
In 1885, Dr. Pasteur, best known for pasteurization, also worked researching vaccines, creating the first successful against the rabies virus. By the twentieth century, Dr. Jonas Salk and Dr. Albert Sabin developed the polio vaccine, being the final push that was needed to establish a vaccine law and extend its use in medicine definitively.
In conclusion, vaccines are of vital importance in humans
As we have seen, vaccines are one of the best produced and most beneficial health measures in the history of medicine. Favoring in this way, both those who decide to use them as a prevention method or as a treatment for diseases.
Dr. Samantha Robson ( CRN: 0510146-5) is a nutritionist and website content reviewer related to her area of expertise. With a postgraduate degree in Nutrition from The University of Arizona, she is a specialist in Sports Nutrition from Oxford University and is also a member of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.