the Scenes with Vaccines
Vaccines are medications that are usually injected to
help prevent you from getting certain diseases. Remember
"getting your shots?" Perhaps you got shots for whooping
cough or diphtheria.
contain proteins (called antibodies) that give immediate protection. But most
vaccines are designed to stimulate the body to develop its own antibodies,
and that can take up to a few weeks to happen.
Vaccines for certain
diseases actually contain the infectious agent, but it is weakened by culturing
it in some other system, such as eggs or tissue culture. The goal in
vaccine manufacturing is to make the infectious organism weak enough so that it
won't cause the disease but strong enough so that it will activate the body's
Once the immune
system is activated by the disease agent, proteins called antibodies are generated
to fight the disease. The antibodies are "programmed"
specifically to fight that particular infectious agent. The original
antibodies that are generated in response to a vaccination eventually
go away, but the immune system has a "memory" and can
make new ones later on if challenged by the same disease agent.
Booster shots can be used to trigger an even bigger response
than only one vaccination would provide. Many vaccinations have
to be repeated every year or so, although for some diseases you
can be protected for a lifetime by a single injection.
of the Immune System
- "auto-immune" diseases
such as rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia in which the immune system loses the ability
to recognize normal proteins, and the immune system begins to
attack its own body
(acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), a fatal venereal disease
that attacks the immune system and for which there is no vaccine
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