What is a vaccination?
A vaccine primes the immune system with a weakened or killed version of a germ so that the body can be prepared to fight against the infectious version of the germ as stated by WHO (2021) and CDC (2022). The immune system is a natural defense for the body against infections, but a vaccine will allow the body to make the necessary antibodies without infection (2021). The body will be ready to fight the antigen after it is recognized (2021).
How do vaccinations help?
The CDC (2022) stated that vaccinations may prevent a person from becoming infected. However, vaccinations do not guarantee full protection (2022). A person may still become infected, but the vaccine may alleviate the symptoms or severity of the disease (2022). Vaccine benefits will typically take a few weeks to develop (2022). The time allows for B-lymphocyte & T-lymphocyte cells to recognize and target the pathogen after exposure (2022). After the identification of the antigen, the B-lymphocyte cells make the antibodies needed to fight the infection (2022). The T-lymphocyte cells will remember the same germ after another exposure (2022).
Are there vaccinations for bacteria, fungus, or for viruses only?
Vaccines commonly work against viral and bacterial pathogens (CDC, 2022). Credible sources such as the CDC (2021) provide an in-depth list on the vaccines available in the United States. There are currently no vaccines to treat fungi, but scientists are researching the challenges (Oliveira et al., 2021). Instead, visit a health professional and use antifungal medication if prescribed (Seladi-Schulman, 2020).
What are the risks for taking a vaccine?
Milder symptoms may appear after the vaccine is given and protection may wear off after a long period of time (CDC, 2022). There may be limitations or guidelines as to who can receive a certain vaccine (CDC, 2020). Health professionals have to consider the person’s age, health condition, and/or pregnancy status before administering a vaccine (2020). For example, immunocompromised people may be ineligible for live attenuated vaccines, but they are at higher risk for certain viral infections (Richards, 2021).
Do all viruses have a vaccine?
No, not all viruses have a vaccine despite the astounding work from vaccination pioneers (Begley, 2019 & Rohde, 2022). Now, vaccines have put an end to deadly diseases such as smallpox (CDC, 2016). Vaccines have almost eliminated Polio, Tetanus, Measles, and more (CDC, 2022). Unfortunately, viruses including HIV, Epstein-Barr virus, and respiratory syncytial virus do not have associated vaccines (Begley, 2019). RSV cases are increasing this year among infants and adolescents in the U.S. after a decrease in case numbers during the pandemic (Johnson, 2022).
Is there an age limit for taking a vaccine?
Yes, there are age limits when it comes to taking a vaccine (Peppers, 2021). COVID-19 vaccines are a great example of age limits in vaccines (2021). Adults require different dosages compared to teens and younger children due to the variation found in their immune systems (2021). Adults have an advanced immune system because the adaptive response is stronger (2021). This means that the immune system can recognize more pathogens due to previous exposure (2021). Due to the pandemic, long periods of time at home and masking have prevented children from becoming exposed to common illnesses (Johnson, 2022).
Does physical activity help with my immune system?
A stronger immune system can advance the recovery time or lessen the severity of the illness (Lindberg, 2022). It will also decrease a person’s susceptibility to getting sick (2022). Therefore, easy lifestyle changes such as consistent physical exercise can boost the immune system for when it has to fight against infections (2022). Exercise improves sleep quality & mood as well as decreases stress and the risk of cardiovascular disease (2022). Unfortunately, people who live healthy lifestyles can still become infected with severe illness and infect others (2022). Building your immune system and staying up to date with vaccines increase your chances of staying healthy while keeping your community and loved ones safe (2022).
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