Written by Ria Singh, a grade 6 student.
There’s been all this talk about vaccines and COVID 19 – the world is waiting for one to be made. But, do you know how vaccines work? They actually release a virus into your body!
Why? Read on..
First, before telling you about how vaccines work, here’s a quick word about how our immune system works (its what fights against infections and keeps us from falling sick). It’s important to understand this first.
Our immune system
Our immune system is made up of a collection of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to fight diseases. So, whenever any virus or disease-causing germ enters our body, our immune system swings into action and acts against it.
What it basically does it, that it produces, what’s called antibodies (these are special proteins). These then try and destroy the virus before it makes us sick.
But, the important thing to know is that the immune system (the cells etc) remember the virus or germ that made you sick and also how to destroy it. This means that if we ever come in contact with that same disease germ again, our immune system will quickly destroy it before it makes us sick. This is what we call immunity.
So, how do vaccines work?
Like we said before, vaccines carry the same virus of the disease against which it is supposed to protect you.
Why is that? The logic is simple. The idea is to give you immunity to the disease. So, the vaccine actually releases a weakened (or dead) virus of the disease-causing germ or parts of the germ (called antigens). What this does is that it makes your immune system produce the antibodies that fight the virus. Also, because the virus is weak, it does not make you sick. And because your immune system remembers fighting the virus – when you do come across it, your system fight it.
Who invented vaccines?
Although vaccines have been said to have been practiced hundreds of years ago by Buddhist monks and also in parts of China, Edward Jenner is considered to be the founder of vaccinology.
In the year 1796, Jenner gave a 13 year-old-boy a vaccine for a deadly disease called smallpox. Then in 1798, the first Small Pox vaccine was developed. This led to mass smallpox immunization and in 1979, Small Pox was eradicated – thanks to Jenner’s efforts!