How Vaccines Work
It is amazing how a simple vaccine can create years of immunity. Here’s how it works.
Vaccines protect your child from disease by allowing their body to perform a “practice run” in protecting itself against germs, so if and when the real version of the disease appears, their body has already built the defenses it needs to stay healthy.
Whenever your child becomes sick their body makes infection-fighting antibodies. Once he or she recovers, these antibodies serve as “watchmen” for that particular disease and remain prepared to fight disease should it reappear. Vaccines trigger the same immune response as when the body encounters a disease without causing illness.
If left totally to chance, your child’s first exposure to a disease may be from a germ too strong for their tiny body to fight. Before we had vaccines, many kids were hospitalized or died as a result of infectious diseases. The same germs exist today, but parents now have the ability and choice to protect their children.
Antigen: Any substance that causes the immune system to produce antibodies against it. Antigens include foreign substances (chemicals, virus, pollen, bacteria), or toxins within the body (bacteria toxins, tissue).
Pathogen: An agent that causes disease, such as a living microorganism (i.e. bacteria).
Antibody: Y-shaped proteins on the surface of B-cells that are secreted into blood in response to an antigenic stimulus that neutralizes the antigen by binding to it.