Vaccines are used to prevent the spread of dangerous or deadly diseases. They work by exposing you to a dead version of the virus which causes the disease. Your immune system confronts the dead virus, and breaks it down; in the process, it learns how to recognize the virus’ chemical traits. This takes advantage of the same property which causes a person to become immune to a disease (such as measles, or the chicken pox) after suffering from it once.
The Problem of Immunodeficiency
People with primary immunodeficiency, or PI for short, are often unable to receive vaccinations which involve live organisms, even if those organisms have been weakened or disabled. Depending upon the type of PI, they may lack the mechanisms required to make immunity possible — either by vaccination, or naturally. This can lead to a dangerous situation, whereby receiving a vaccine containing weakened viral organisms may actually result in the individual developing the associated illness.
With the immune system being such a complicated arrangement, involving as many multi-functional parts as it does, it’s impossible to characterize a single profile for PI patients and vaccinations. In general, however, there are certain vaccinations (which don’t involve living organisms at all) which some PI patients can receive. It is generally advised that an immune-compromised person receive whatever vaccinations are available to them, more information on which can be provided by their primary care physician or immunologist.
CDC Releases 2017 Vaccine Schedule Targeting Immune-Compromised Adults
The CDC has released an informative 2017 vaccine schedule of recommended immunizations for adults. This annual release has been made simpler and easier to understand this year, with multiple important changes. This includes the relocation of important information to the cover of the release, improving the order in which various key points are presented.
The CDC has also made headway with breaking down information more concisely, presenting it alongside color-coded graphs and charts that make it much easier to process. Given the controversial nature of vaccination in recent years, this is widely perceived as a crucial step in improving the conveyance of relevant information.
How Vaccines Work
The human immune system has many different methods at its disposal by which an infectious organism can be combated. When you experience an infection for the first time, however, your body doesn’t know anything about it. As a result, it employs a steady escalation of progressively more powerful methods of combating it. Much of what we think of as symptoms which are “caused by” a disease are not actually caused by the invasive organism directly: they are a part of your immune system response. For example, swelling and inflammation are often the result of your blood vessels leaking fluid into an infected area, which allows your immune system’s “combat cells” (cells like macrophages, and t-cells) to move around more easily.
After successfully fighting off an invader, your immune system remembers its distinctive chemical characteristics. These are recorded on memory T-cells. If that invader is ever detected again, killer T-cells (the first wave of non-localized response to an infection; the “big guns” in fighting off disease) can be dispatched immediately. Without any time to build up significant numbers, the invader is doomed. This is what is referred to as “immunity.”
A vaccine uses dead, weakened, or deactivated organisms to trigger your immune system. The local response happens as normal, but your body doesn’t recognize the invader, so it dispatches messengers (dendritic cells) to activate memory t-cells. The “infection,” which consists of non-viable organisms, is easily dealt with; meanwhile, your immune system reacts as though the disease were actually contracted: it stores the memory of its chemical signature.
Learn more about Autoimmune Disorders.
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