In the last two editions, we have discussed the history of vaccines and how they developed.
BUT WHAT ARE VACCINES?
Vaccines are either killed or attenuated (weakened) form of the viruses or bacteria that we intend to give the body immunity against.
They are prepared through a special sequence of techniques on special media so as to render the best results of high immunity with the least side effects.
They are prepared in special laboratories with the most stringent hygienic and sterile methods.
SO HOW DO THEY WORK?
By injecting a vaccine or giving it orally (by mouth), a sequence of events start in the human body between the immune system of the vaccinated person’s body and the vaccine. The immune system starts identifying the virus or bacteria and starts fighting them leading to what is known as antibodies.
These antibodies are specific against this type of virus or bacteria so that in case of a new exposure to the virulent (strong, active and harmful) virus or bacteria, the body would be ready with its own specific defenders (antibodies) and can accordingly fight and abort the infection as soon as possible with none or minimal manifestations.
HOW LONG DO THIS IMMUNITY LAST?
There are different life spans for the effect of these vaccines according to the type of vaccine given but generally all the vaccines do not give a life long immunity and need every few years to be given again as a booster dose.
IS THERE ONE SCHEDULE OF VACCINATION AROUND THE WORLD?
Generally, the WHO (World Health Organization) has produced a list of vaccines that are obligatory but it is well known that different localities around the world have different types of endemic infections and accordingly the vaccination schedule would be changed.
It is important to identify in which area you are living and what are the most endemic infections that are existing there even before you move to this area.
Usually the topic of the vaccinations given to the child or adult is discussed with your pediatrician and accordingly the schedule of vaccination is established.
IS IT IMPORTANT TO GIVE ALL TYPES OF VACCINATIONS?
It is important to know that the human body has been always capable of fighting and defeating many types of bacteria or viruses even before the evolution of the vaccines, but it has been noticed that either the infections became more virulent or some viruses changed its form into more harmful ones. Also new infections have been identified and isolated accordingly the need to be immune was of utmost importance. It is very beneficial to give all the vaccines in a comprehensive and scientific manner as discussed with your pediatrician.
WHAT ABOUT THE INTEGRITY AND VALIDTY OF THE VACCINES?
Vaccines should be kept in what is know as the “ Cold Chain “ from the moment of production till it is delivered to the patient. Most of the vaccines are kept in a temperature between 2 – 8 degrees centigrade except the oral polio drops which are kept in the freezing degree.
Vaccines can be kept and given till their expiry date as long as these conditions of transportation and storing are intact.
MOST POPULAR VACCINES
Most of us know some vaccines as poliomyelitis vaccine, measles vaccines, rubella vaccine, diphtheria vaccine and many others. Lately, new vaccines have been introduced as the vaccine against Rotavirus, as well as the vaccine against Pneumococcal infection and the vaccine against Human Papilloma Virus.
These have been the vaccines emerging in the last 10 years and probably more will be appearing.
Finally, every parent should be very grateful to the new discoveries that have been done lately regarding those vaccines as it is very beneficial and life saving in many situations as well as improving the quality of life to other children. Every child should be followed up promptly regarding his vaccines and a full comprehensive record should be always kept with his parents.
For any further enquiries please contact me on:
My email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact number: 012 314 95 93
Or send your questions to the Red Sea Bulletin.
Dr Rafeek Ramzy
Pediatrician and Neonatologist
Member of American Academy of Pediatrics ( AAP )