Although taken for granted, vaccines play a crucial role in protecting us from diseases and reducing the risk of disabilities alike. Without vaccines, infectious conditions, including measles, polio, etc., would have ravaged the world. Luckily, the development of vaccines has made the world a safer place, hence healthier societies. We cannot imagine how the world would have been without the hard work researchers, and scientists have put into developing vaccines. Outlined below are some of the advantages and ways vaccines have impacted both individual and public health levels.
Brief History Of Vaccine Development
Since the first vaccine was developed, millions or even billions of lives have been saved. The smallpox vaccine was among the first to be developed and paved the way for more advanced research in the vaccine development niche. Today, vaccines are the go-to solution for countries looking to kick out risky conditions and diseases such as measles and polio. The best thing about vaccines is that they help protect general pollution from spreading infectious diseases, including those yet to be vaccinated.
While playing a crucial role in the health sector, there are still questions and controversies surrounding vaccines – their principal role in life-saving interventions is clear as day. It is only by looking into data from the past vaccinated populations and times when vaccines were unheard of that we can truly appreciate their value. According to research, thousands of vaccines have been developed to help manage/control many known infectious diseases.
Types of Vaccines
The phrase ‘Prevention is better than cure’ best defines what a vaccine is. It is, however, worth noting that every vaccine is unique and designed to protect us from a specific disease or strain. There are thus several different types of vaccines, namely:
- Live attenuated vaccines: This type of vaccine contains a weakened version of the actual bacteria or virus.
- Inactivated vaccines: These vaccines are made from dead bacteria or viruses
- Subunit vaccines: This type contains small/controlled pieces of bacteria or viruses. This helps stimulate the body’s immune system to produce enough antibodies for the same.
- DNA vaccines: These vaccines are developed using a fragment of the bacteria/virus ‘genetic material, enough to trigger immune action.
All these types of vaccines are developed and designed to help the body create a strong enough defence mechanism against specific diseases- causing bacteria and viruses.
Why Immunization Is Important
Immunization is one of the pillars of disease prevention and control. A vaccine helps the body detect disease-causing microbes (but in a controlled environment) early enough, helping it build defences against the same. This is only possible when a safe and weakened form of the pathogen is introduced into the body. This way, the immune system will be more than capable of handling such pathogens (when exposed) and fighting them off without risking your life. That said, immunization helps reduce/prevent potentially dangerous diseases and keeps us from getting sick. It is especially important for individuals with compromised immune systems, e.g., kids and older adults.
How Do Vaccines Work
Vaccines have been around for many centuries now. Their main role is to prepare the immune system to fight off specific bacteria and viruses that cause illness. In other words, vaccines help make your immune system stronger. As mentioned before, vaccines a developed using a small but harmless piece of the disease-causing microbe. The immune system quickly detects the foreign bacteria/virus and responds to it immediately. With only a small percentage of the bacteria/virus present, the immune system can develop enough antigens or antibodies to fight the invader off. This makes it easier for the body to fight off a real infection should one be exposed in the future. By stimulating the body’s immune system, vaccines can be quite effective in preventing most known infections and diseases. Vaccines have also played an instrumental role in eradicating numerous deadly diseases.
Making A Vaccine Efficient
The immunoassay development process takes time and lots of research and trials. The first step in vaccine development is identifying the specific bacteria or virus and learning how it works. Next, scientists and researchers have to create a sequence to help the human immune system detect and combat the pathogen. This step may require the researchers to use different approaches when developing the vaccine. They will thus test different forms/types from weakened or inactivated pathogens or even mRNA before settling on the safest and most effective one. Numerous tests and trials have to be done before the vaccine can be deemed safe. It is only after the vaccine has been given a clean bill of health that mass production and distribution can commence. Those in urgent need of the vaccine get the top-most priority down to those with a low risk of contracting the condition. It can take thousands of researchers from all across the world to develop a single but effective vaccine.
How Vaccines Are Distributed
The process of ensuring everyone can access all the vital vaccines (across the globe) has been a long one. Thankfully, UNICEF and WHO (the World Health Organization) help make it possible for everyone to access these vaccines with ease. These organizations work tirelessly to ensure those at the highest risk of such diseases and needing the vaccines get them on time. This includes those in the remote’s parts of the world. Aside from making vaccines available and distribution, governments, too, are tasked with running campaigns and partnerships to ensure their citizens get vaccinated. Despite all these measures, access to these vaccines, especially in areas with limited healthcare access, is still challenging.
Vaccines continue to play a critical role in maintaining public health across the globe. Many previously fatal and uncontrollable health conditions and diseases have been tamed thanks to vaccine development. Vaccines are, thus, the most effective weapon for fighting against dangerous infectious diseases. This is one of the reasons it’s advisable to get all the recommended vaccines. It goes a long way in helping combat many known pathogens worldwide.