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Vaccines are Rewarding

Vaccines train your body to fight germs faster. With flu season just around the corner, our expert reveals why it’s time to get immunised.

If you have diabetes, you could have serious problems if you get sick. In 2017 and 2018, the flu virus left more than 2,000 diabetics in intensive care and now, Public Health experts have warned that pregnant women and adults with long-term medical conditions who contract it, could end up with such severe breathing difficulties that their lives could be at risk. However, one small thing could help prevent you suffering the flu vaccine.

Like other inoculations, the flu vaccine stimulates your body’s immune system to make antibodies to attack the flu virus, so when you’re exposed to it, your immune system recognises the virus and produces antibodies to fight it. In the past, flu vaccines have prevented over five million cases worldwide.

The vaccine introduces an inactivated weakened form of the virus bacteria into the body. Vaccines enhance your body’s natural defences, without causing illness. The body’s immune system produces antibodies to defend against the virus bacteria. When the real active virus bacteria is in the body, it is recognised by the defence system which may eliminate it.

With a new wave of very vocal ‘anti-vaxxers’, there’s a worry, many people might be threatening their health by skipping not only the flu vaccine, but other key inoculations too. In fact, the situation is deemed serious enough for the World Health Organization to have listed the anti-vax movement as one of the top 10 biggest health threats for 2019.

Where Vaccines Began

The vaccine goes back to 1796, when Edward Jenner developed a defence against smallpox, using an original method involving matter from a blister (cowpox) and inoculating it into another human being. By the 1940’s, factory production of the vaccine was possible and immunisations included – diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio (1955), measles, mumps, rubella (70’s), hepatitis A and B, as well as flu (2005).

Vaccines today work better than ever — more protection, fewer antigens.


“Vaccines have revolutionised how we approach child health,” says our expert, Dr. Jeff Foster. “They have saved millions of lives and protected countless others from a lifetime of disability. As a society we forget, how difficult the past was and we’re further subject to media bias and the internet is full of scare stories” he adds.

As a result, anti-vaxxers see vaccines as unsafe. This line of thought was primarily instigated by a disgraced former doctor Andrew Wakefield and his study, which wrongly asserted a link between the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine and autism.

Even though his work has now been discredited, the issue of ‘correlation and causation confusion’ still exists. This is when people create a link between two separate things just because they happen at the same time (even though there’s no proven or scientific connection). The MMR vaccine numbers went up at the same time cases of autism were being recognised and discovered too, so people believed the two must be linked.

There’s also the case of ‘perfectionist fallacy’ because scientists can’t prove vaccines are a 100% safe, anti-vaxxers believe we shouldn’t use them at all. This means a swell of anti-vaxxers are now refusing to get themselves and their children immunised. As a result, the number of people receiving the MMR vaccine has decreased for the sixth year in a row.

We’re now seeing an outbreak of measles all over Europe, (there’s been a 30% spike in cases worldwide) because people have hesitated to vaccinate their children. To prevent out-breaks of preventable diseases and to keep children protected, vaccination and well-child visits are essential.

Vaccines are a Vital Lifeline

Vaccinations save upto 3 million lives worldwide every year from serious infectious diseases. Not only is this anti-vax outlook flawed, but it’s also dangerous, say experts. Vaccines are a vital defence against infectious diseases. “They contain a weakened or slightly altered version of the disease, which stimulates the body’s immune system,” says Dr Foster. “If enough people get vaccinated, it provides herd immunity, which stops the disease spreading and it helps eradicate it. Plus, it protects those who cannot have the vaccine because they’re unable to build an immune reaction.”

However, if large groups of people refuse vaccines, problems develop. The principle of herd immunity fails and the disease spreads, as has happened with the measles outbreak.

Vaccines and the Risks

You may occasionally suffer from localised bruising or bleeding and sometimes younger children or babies may be irritable or unwell after an inoculation, but this usually disappears within a day or two. “The risk of true allergy or anaphylaxis is incredibly small and the benefits greatly outweigh the risks”, explains Dr Foster.

Lastly, no! You can’t get flu from the flu vaccine. The flu shot is made from an inactivated virus that can’t transmit infection. According to the experts at Harvard Medical School, it takes a week or two, to get protection from the vaccine. So if you come down with a lurgy straight after being inoculated, you were probably already infected. 

E376 – Vaccines are Rewarding –

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