General knowledge October 23rd, 2009 | Comments Off
With the current worldwide vaccination program against the H1N1 flu virus, you may be wondering just what a vaccine is and how it works.
In essence, it’s a substance, usually a protein or carbohydrate, that induces immunity to a disease or infection. You can get immunity to a disease in two different ways.
One is to have the infection and thereafter you have a level of immunity.
The other way is to receive a part of the virus or bacteria that won’t cause an infection, but will allow you to develop antibodies so that when you later get the infection, you will be able to handle it.
The H1N1 flu vaccine falls into the latter category, exposing recipients to a small amount of a purified version of virus, grown in a laboratory, in order to boost the body’s level of resistance to that specific illness.
What is a vaccination and how does it work?
Vaccinations protect you from specific diseases that can make you very sick, disable or even kill you. They boost your body’s own defence system, which is also called the immune system.
Vaccines create immunity that protects you from an infection without causing the suffering of the disease itself. Sometimes vaccines are called immunizations, needles or shots.
How vaccines work
- Most vaccines contain a little bit of a disease germ that is weak or dead. Vaccines do NOT contain the type of germ that makes you sick. Some vaccines do not contain any germs.
- Having this little bit of the germ inside your body makes your body’s defence system build antibodies to fight off this kind of germ. Antibodies help trap and kill germs that could lead to disease.
- Your body can make antibodies in two ways: by getting the disease or by getting the vaccine. Getting the vaccine is a much safer way to make antibodies without having the suffering of the disease itself and the risk of becoming disabled or even dying.
- Antibodies stay with you for a long... [continues]
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