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Do vaccinations really work always?

Published on: 28 September , 2016 | Ekta

My entire family was elated & thrilled to celebrate my angel’s 1st birthday. Birthdays are always special. Aren’t they? And if it is the 1st birthday, nothing more exciting. The preparations had begun for a grand celebration. We were embarking on the final countdown. 6 days before the D-Day, my daughter’s fever manifested into “measles”. With rashes all over her body, high temperature & unexplained discomfort, we were in knee-high pain. She was vaccinated with MMR (Measles, Mumps & Rubella) virus in their 10th month. We had meticulously followed the vaccination schedule as suggested by our pediatrician. And yet, she developed Measles. Why? We asked ourselves, do vaccinations really work always? If they do, to what extent are they effective? How well do they work?

The fact is that vaccines do work most of the times. About 90%-99% of the times, depending on the disease or infection. If you follow the schedule as prescribed by your doctor throughout the formative years of your child, you can be sure that your baby is shielded from diseases as long as hygiene & sanitation facilities are well maintained in your environment; both at home & at school.

As a parent you should be sure that the vaccine is recommended by a trusted pediatrician because it has to be approved by the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) authority to work at it’s best intended purpose. The drop in the cases reported after the licensing of a drug/vaccine declines drastically, thereby aiding in eliminating the disease altogether.

If vaccinations really work well, then why do people get infected? In such rare cases, some people get infected even after getting vaccinated. It means that no vaccine is 100% perfect. Although the reasons remain unexplained, some who have a low immunity may get infected easily. You may also catch the infection if you have not received the recommended “booster shots” as per the vaccination schedule.

While you dread of having these diseases, you should remember that if you are vaccinated for a particular disease, even if you are infected by the virus, you will suffer a milder form of the disease.

How do vaccinations actually work?

The doctor injects a killed, weakened or a partial form of the diseased germ into your child’s body. To fight the infection, the body responds by releasing antibodies to attack the enemy. So, if your child happens to encounter the actual disease at some point in the future, the antibodies will still be prevalent to fight against them. Once the infection is combated, many anti bodies disappear. But the cells that are involved in the production of the antibodies remain alive as “memory cells”. They remember the original antigen & fight against it, if it tries to attack in the person. This shield is called “Immunity”.

What is “Herd Immunity”?

The idea is that, if most of the people in a community or a location have been vaccinated & develop immunity against a particular disease, it is tougher for the virus or bacteria to cause an outbreak & put the entire society at risk. Not all people have the same immunity. Some cannot develop immunity against a particular disease. While some are not immunized at all. However, if most of the people in that location are immunized, they indirectly develop something called “Herd Immunity” against the antigen thereby preventing an outbreak of the disease. Yes, the human body is exceedingly complicated.

This is the interesting bit: Research & Science has proved that the mortality rate has drastically decreased after meticulously following the immunization schedule. We have the vital statistics to prove that since the mid 1900’s the human body has developed resistance towards certain diseases that had taken a heavy toll on human lives. So, does this mean that the holistic health of infants these days is far more superior to the earlier days? Brace yourselves. Shockingly, the answer is ‘NO’. Infants these days are susceptible to many more infections & diseases. We are surrounded by various pathogens, harmful virus & bacteria & carcinogens that can attack us either through air, water or through physical contact. The underlying & fundamental equation is to collectively make efforts to keep the society clean & follow the safety measures as suggested by the experts. Depending on your strength of your immunity system & how effectively your antibodies are able to fight off the antigen, you may or may not fall sick. That also decides the effect or degree of your suffering if you are infected.

FAQs about vaccinations by parents

Let’s answer some frequently asked questions about vaccinations that most parents want to know.

1) This is the million dollar question – Is natural immunity better than vaccinated-acquired immunity?

This is tricky but true. On some occasions, natural immunity lasts longer than vaccinated-acquired immunity. However, the risks involved with natural infection outweigh the risks caused due to immunization. In simple words, the benefits of immunity acquired through vaccination is far better than natural immunity because it may cause serious risks (though a minority) by affecting the brain or organs. Also in some cases like tetanus, they provide better immunity than natural immunity. Probably, that’s why your doctor recommends at tetanus shot if you have a deep cut or bruise.

2) Can my baby develop a particular disease after we inject a weaker or partial form of the antigen or virus?

The answer is “No”. You cannot develop the disease by getting injected with the mild form of the infected pathogen. However, there may be, in some cases, some side effects that may be temporary. But every vaccine is designed keeping the safety and overall health in mind thereby minimalizing the possibility of any lethal damage to anyone.

3) Do vaccinations really work always? Why are the vaccines not 100% effective?

Immunization against a certain disease aims at protecting a particular individual during future exposures to the disease causing antigen. In some cases, the victim’s body is unable to generate an adequate response as a result of which the effectiveness of the immunization is not the same as intended.

4) Why are there so many vaccines? Is it ok to skip few?

Many of them are rare or non-existent in most parts of the world. It is believed that prior to immunization, some of these diseases caused critical illness or death in many cases. If the recommended dosage was not given, over a period of few years, there might be an outbreak of these diseases again which were dormant all these decades. The disease will quickly begin to spread all over the world. Hospitals may not have the facilities to treat every infected patient & this may cause disabilities or long term critical illness for generations to come.

As a parent, all we wish is that our child grows up to be a healthy & happy child. To give your child a healthy start you should exclusively breast feed your child for atleast 6 months & follow the vaccination schedule as recommended by your doctors. Hope this answered your question if vaccinations really work always.

Happy Parenting! :)

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A doting mom to an angel, Social Media Specialist & Professional Blogger. She loves to share her thoughts with other parents in the same turbulent boat. She absolutely loves & adores her family & is learning to strike a good work-life balance. When she is not writing, cooking or busy taking care of her toddler, she probably is dancing to some good desi music!

karthika 2016-10-07 20:02:37

Also its good that most of the hosiptals sends reminders in the form of messages and calls for vaccinations. Its useful at times. Even i had always have these questions is vaccinations really useful. Thanks for the insight.

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karthika 2016-10-07 20:02:37

Hi Karthika, That's true. Many hospitals take the initiative to send reminders as it is critical for a child's development.

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Thank you for the comment!