What Happens When You Vaccinate?

Vaccination is a sensitive issue, and opinions differ widely. The purpose of a vaccination is to train the immune system through contact with pathogens to be fought more effectively.

In the 18th century, it was recognized that contact with a pathogen helps prevent infection. The principle of immunization was discovered. At that time, side effects often occurred because the correct level of contact with the pathogens could not yet be determined.

The current vaccination status should be checked regularly so that continuous vaccination protection can be guaranteed. Because the vaccination protection is of different duration, depending on the vaccination. One reason for this is the different ways of vaccinating. A distinction is made between active and passive immunization, where the shelf life and the procedure vary.

Active immunization

This is the classic vaccination variant in which the vaccine contains antigens – i.e. the pathogens. This form of vaccination can only be carried out in healthy people. This is due to the vaccination method.

Killed or weakened pathogens are administered to healthy people in order to simulate an infection in the body. The pathogens trigger an immune reaction in the body and ensure that the body produces antigens and memory cells.

It can take up to four weeks from the start of vaccination to full protection. In return, the body is able to recognize the pathogen through the memory cells in future contact with the pathogen. The cells react to the antigens (pathogens) and initiate the production of specific antibodies. These fight the pathogen and ensure that the disease does not break out.

Active vaccinations are listed in the vaccination certificate: e.g. mumps, measles, rubella. The vaccination record should be checked regularly because the memory cells responsible for producing antibodies have a lifespan of almost 10 years. For this reason, vaccinations must be refreshed at regular intervals.

Active immunization creates adequate long-term protection against pathogens.

Passive immunization

In contrast to active immunization, the vaccine of passive immunization contains antibodies against the pathogen. The body does not have to produce these itself. Antibodies of human, animal or genetic origin are used.

Classically, passive immunization occurs when the body has already become infected with the pathogen or exposes itself to the pathogen through a trip, for example (malaria). The administered antibodies provide immediate protection against the pathogen. Since the memory cells are not stimulated with this form of vaccination, protection against the pathogen is not long-lasting.

Immunization in Infants

Newborns usually do not need a vaccination in the first few months of life, as breast milk also contains antibodies. They are essential protection for the newborn. The immune defence of the newborn is called nest protection. Immune defence substances are already transferred from mother to child in the last weeks of pregnancy. The so-called nest protection lasts about nine months but is already reduced after 2-3 months.

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