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What is a vaccine and how does it work?

Whether you are of the belief that vaccines cause autism or not, an understanding of vaccines themselves and the benefits they have for the body might be the key to changing a few minds.

The immune system is the body’s defender, and vaccines are the information that comes down through the body for its defense to allow your cells to fight off a strange infection. Our body can learn to heal itself over time and can adapt to an attack, but this can naturally take about a week and sometimes that’s too long.

Vaccines allow for the body to skip the learning phase and go straight to handling the infection by injecting harmless versions of the virus into the body. The immune system destroys these harmless viruses and analyzes their weaknesses to become better at fighting them, then when the real battle starts your body already knows what the enemy has planned.

Think of it like this

Imagine your body is a castle, and the soldiers who defend the castle from attack represent your immune system. Now, when you get vaccinated, it’s like defectors from an enemy army come to the castle and warn about an attack.

The soldiers capture and study the defectors, who tell your immune system all the tactics and the makeup of the army that the enemy will use. Then the castle prepares according to those plans, and when the battle happens and the disease does arrive, the soldiers are more than ready to defeat the bacteria.

This might even happen before you start feeling any symptoms or even know you are sick.

Are vaccines safe?

Sure vaccines are great, but they are injecting parts of diseases into the body, the same diseases that the body is fighting. How are we sure that they are harmless?

Vaccines don’t just appear out of nowhere, and they go through countless safety tests on children, infants, and adults of all ages before the Food and Drug Administration and the Center for Disease can authorize it for public use.

The vaccines are tested in labs and then on people who volunteer for a clinical trial, and this process can take a few years while scientists determine if they are safe, what dosage needs to be used, and how the body reacts to it.

The FDA keeps close tabs on the company that produces the vaccine and ensures that all batches are potent, pure, and sterile. Then when they are shown to the public, the patients are still monitored.

Side effects

Vaccines have a minuscule chance for serious side effects, and some of the more common ones such as pain or headaches are mild and go away without any other treatment. Plus, a five-minute sore arm or a headache is easier to deal with than getting sick all the time from the diseases vaccines are supposed to prevent.

So while their effect on the brain might be up for debate, their benefits to keeping our body safe should make everyone line up for a shot.