How vaccines work
Bacteria and viruses are all around us, but they are so small that you can only see them with a microscope. Some bacteria and viruses can make us sick and a few of them can cause serious diseases such as polio, measles, mumps, whooping cough, chickenpox, hepatitis, tetanus (lockjaw) and meningitis.
Bacteria and viruses can enter our bodies in different ways:
- through our nose when we breathe,
- through our mouth when we eat or drink, or
- through cuts and scrapes.
Luckily, our bodies have an immune system to protect us from bacteria and viruses. Our immune system has fighter cells that break down any bacteria and viruses that get into our bodies that might cause infections or diseases. Sometimes fighter cells need extra help to fight the bad bacteria and viruses, and that is why we have vaccines.
Most vaccines are made from weakened viruses and bacteria. When we get immunized, the vaccine teaches our immune system to recognize the bad bacteria and viruses. It tells our fighter cells to attack these invaders. Vaccines let our immune system practise recognizing and fighting different kinds of bacteria and viruses. Then, if the real bacteria and viruses get in our body, our immune system remembers and is ready to attack them.
We cannot be sure that our immune system will fight all the bacteria and viruses all the time. Sometimes our immune system can forget how to fight particular bacteria or viruses. To help our immune system remember, we can get a booster shot.
If you’ve been immunized, then you have a very good chance of avoiding harmful viruses and bacteria.
This is how immunization saves lives.
For more information about immunization, please contact your local Public Health office.
Resource: Website: immunize.ca