Q&A: The benefits of vaccines

How does our immune system work? What are the benefits of getting vaccinated? How do these benefits differ from our body’s natural defenses against viruses and bacteria? We sat down with Cori Veatch, MD, an internal medicine physician with HonorHealth Medical Group to learn more.

Q: What are antibodies?

A: When our body encounters a virus or bacteria, our immune system responds in multiple ways. It tries to get rid of the invader before it causes any damage, but in doing so, it writes a code for tiny proteins that stay in our bloodstream called antibodies. Antibodies specifically recognize part of the virus or bacteria that was successfully defeated, allowing our body to respond quickly the next time that invader comes around.

Q: What is natural immunity?

A: The first step to building natural immunity involves getting sick the first time your body encounters that specific virus or bacteria. With these newly formed antibodies, most of the time, our body can respond so quickly that we don’t even get sick the next time we encounter that virus or bacteria. This amazing process is called natural immunity.

Benefits of vaccines - Q&A with experts at HonorHealth

Q: How do the benefits of a vaccine differ from natural immunity?

A: A vaccine allows your body’s immune system to respond to an inactivated version of a virus or bacteria, creating antibodies and other protection specific to that invader before it ever has a chance to make you sick. With vaccines, you can protect your family from polio, tetanus, rotavirus, hepatitis A and B, whooping cough, chicken pox, measles, and bacteria that cause pneumonia and meningitis. There is even a vaccine now for a virus that causes cancer.

Q: How are the COVID-19 vaccines different?

A: The COVID-19 vaccines are recommended to prevent disease just like the rest of the vaccinations we recommend. It is important for as many people as possible to be vaccinated as it helps stop the fast spread of what can be a dangerous illness to some who contract the virus. There is a new technology that was used to produce some of the vaccines – mRNA vaccination – that we hope will also help us quickly and effectively produce future vaccines. Everyone who is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination and boosters should be vaccinated to help our community.

Q: How do I know which vaccines my child and/or I should receive?

A: Your doctor is the best resource to help you decide what’s right for you and your child. I encourage you to make an appointment with your primary care provider today to discuss any questions or concerns you might have, or to check and make sure your or your child’s immunizations are up to date.

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