Vaccination in a Nutshell

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Vaccinations are traditionally used to prevent the devastating effects of those infectious diseases for which the body has no effective control mechanism, such as smallpox and poliomyelitis. This is accomplished by mimicking the infection in a controlled way thus provoking an immune response that will be protective of a potential natural infection at a later time.

Humans cohabit a world of other living beings, among them bacteria and viruses, the tiny invisible organisms capable of causing infectious diseases.

The vast majority of microorganisms living around us, on our skin, in our mouth and intestinal tract are harmless and often beneficial for the host.

"Disease usually results from inconclusive negotiations for symbiosis, an overstepping of the line by one side or the other, a biological misinterpretation of the boundaries." - Lewis Thomas

When the balance is disturbed and infection occurs, or a harmful bacteria or virus invades, the human body mounts a defensive response. White blood cells take up, kill and digest the invader (cellular immune response), and/or antibody molecules produced, molecules that coat and neutralize the invader and help in the elimination and clearance of the infection (humoral immune response).

The immune system's memory will then be provoked when a second infection occurs with the same organism, resulting in a faster protective response. This memory is used in vaccinations.

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