Vaccination And Immunization

One of the most exceptional success stories of the 20th century includes artificial invigoration of the immune system to combat contagious diseases. In fact, several former childhood killer diseases, such as polio and diphtheria, have almost vanished, while it has been possible to eradicate smallpox as mass inoculation programs were introduced during the 1950s and 1960s. In addition, the incidences of mumps, measles and rubella (also known as German measles) have declined significantly after the MMR vaccine was introduced.

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Immunization is not only vital for protecting particular individuals from diseases, but also to ensure that the levels of diseases remain low in the neighborhood. When the rates of immunization decline, diseases usually assume epidemic proportions. Vaccinations have proved to be doing so well that majority of us are unable to recall of any devastation due to outbreaks of childhood ailments. Nevertheless, there is a danger that people may possibly develop negligence making the way for crippling childhood diseases like diphtheria and polio to return. While immunization offers several benefits, there is also another view that says that it makes the natural aptitude of our body to combat infections weaker.

Although inoculations may hurt us a bit, they help to prevent the occurrence of diseases that are much worse. Some of these diseases are so critical that they may even prove to be fatal. Therefore, there is no doubt that vaccinations or immunization shots are indispensable. They are effective in protecting us from diseases like mumps, measles, polio, rubella, diphtheria, hepatitis B, tetanus as well as pertussis (also known as whooping cough). Vaccinations are vital for everyone - adults and children.

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The immune system facilitates our body to combat pathogenic microorganisms by means of production of substances that fight against these germs. When the immune system has already combated any germ, it has the aptitude to remember the microbe and is able to combat it again. Vaccines enclose germs, which are either dead or emasculated. When a healthy person takes a vaccination, it activates or invigorates the immune system to react and, thereby, reinforce the immunity.

Before vaccines were available, the only means of building up one's immunity was by having a disease and outliving it. With the introduction of vaccines, it has become easier as well as less hazardous to build up immunity.

Types of immunization

Majority of the vaccinations are given by means of injections, which are administered into the buttock or the arm. A number of immunizations, such as polio vaccines, are given orally. Vaccines are of two types - either active or passive. Active immunization is the most widespread kind of immunization and is also called vaccination. Vaccines enclose particularly treated microbes that activate the immune system of the body to generate antibodies, but do not result in full-scale ailments. Once a vaccine has combated a microbe, the immune system remembers the type of the disease and the microbe responsible for it. In case the individual comes in contact with it in future, he automatically makes antibodies that combat the infection. In the instance of passive immunization, the immunoglobulins (antibodies) are directly injected into the individual's bloodstream to provide instance, but temporary protection.

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Vaccines, which are called live vaccines, are made from bacteria and viruses that have been divested of their venom or harshness, but can still stimulate the formation of antibodies. Oral polio, yellow fever, and BCG (given as protection against TB) are some examples of live vaccines. Majority of the other types of vaccines are prepared from deceased microorganisms, which have been destroyed in a manner that they are still able to preserve their aptitude to provide immunity.

Adverse reactions

Present day vaccines are generally mild and usually cause very few side effects, if any at all. The most common side effects of vaccines include pain, swelling and redness at the place where the injection is administered. In addition, the individual receiving the vaccine also experiences headaches and a feeling as if he/ she has got flu. These trivial symptoms can be alleviated without much trouble provided the person takes rest, drinks lots of fluids and takes painkillers (analgesic medications). It is only rarely that vaccines result in serious conditions like seizure.

Whooping cough
This particular vaccination has been involved in a lot of controversies. Although very rare, in a number of instances it has been hinted that this vaccination might bring about a reaction, which may possibly damage the brain permanently. Studies undertaken till date have, however, failed to discover any valid relation between taking this vaccine and lasting brain damage. On the contrary, there is plenty of evidence that shows that the risks of developing the disease by infants or children is much more compared to the risks, if any, associated with this vaccine.
Childhood immunization
It is essential to immunize babies as well as children against mumps, measles, polio, diphtheria, rubella (German measles), pertussis (whooping cough), as well as one variety of meningitis known as Hemophilus influenza or Hib. It is also advisable that they be immunized for chickenpox and hepatitis B.
Travel immunization
It is advisable that people who often travel to different regions of the world, especially the Third World should be given specific immunizations. However, while traveling to specific areas it is compulsory to take vaccines for yellow fever. These specific immunizations include vaccines against tetanus, polio, diphtheria booster shots as well as other vaccine like hepatitis A and B, typhoid, meningitis, and rabies. In case you are planning to visit such places, it is important to consult with your physician regarding the specific immunizations that should be necessarily taken some months prior to departure.
Flu immunization
Individuals who are debilitated due to any ailment, those suffering from specific chronic health conditions, and a section of aged individuals are likely to find it more difficult than others to combat flu. Such people are likely to benefit much when they are given flu vaccines.

Alternatives to vaccination

The positive impact of mass immunization programs in fighting contagious ailments notwithstanding, vaccination continues to be a hot topic for debate between conservative physicians, majority of them supporting it, while a section of alternative medicine practitioners opposing it.

People who are opposed to vaccinations have been emphasizing that they put needless strain on the immune system, as it fills our body with toxic substances that provoke the immune system to react excessively, resulting in a major disparity in the natural harmony of the body. A number of alternative medicine practitioners dispute the fact that vaccinations are necessary for all. Substantiating their view, they say that people having a robust immune system that is effective in putting off as well as combating diseases do not need to be vaccinated. They further assert that when one is ill, there is always a particular reason for it - ailments especially occur when an individual's vitality or energy levels are depleted or lack equilibrium. According to their view, the imbalance or disparity in one's vital energy may be corrected best by means of using herbal and/ or homeopathic remedies that are prepared to especially suit the requirements of the ailing individual and meant to reinforce their immune system. Nevertheless, the usual vaccines may be recommended for people having a low natural resistance power with a view to provide their immunity an additional boost.

The claims of a number of physicians practising homeopathy are even more extreme. They assert that vaccinations aggressively harm the immune system. Precisely speaking, these homeopathic practitioners assert that such damages have the potential to turn children further vulnerable to various problems, for instance infection in the middle-ear; coughs and colds, aching throats and chest infections. On the whole, these physicians hold vaccinations responsible for the rise in acute health problems like autoimmune disease (wherein the body starts working against itself); asthma; multiple sclerosis and several different types of allergies. They also blame immunization for health conditions like behavioural disorders and also AIDS.

People having this view think that children are likely to get the ailments against which children are generally immunized only if they are constitutionally vulnerable to various infectious ailments and also believe that these diseases pose a hazard for children and adults who have a very low level of vitality or energy owing to conformist treatment methods, for instance using antibiotics to treat ailments. Several homeopathic practitioners also debate that instead of administering vaccines, children ought to be treated using medications that have been prepared keeping in view the need to reinforce the individual constitution of each person. Such medications are also known as constitutional remedies and help to develop and strengthen their natural defence systems to enable their bodies to fight off infections in a better way.


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