Immunization is a process that helps your body fight off diseases caused by certain viruses and bacteria.
- Immunization can occur naturally or by exposing your body to vaccines, usually by injections or "shots".
- These shots help to build immunity against certain diseases that your body has trouble fighting on its own.
Antibodies and the Role they Play
- Vaccines contain tiny amounts of material that make your immune system produce certain proteins called "antibodies".
- Antibodies can attack and destroy viruses and bacteria.
- Your immune system stores this information on how to make these antibodies. Later -- even many years later -- when your body is exposed to that same bacteria or virus, it "remembers" how to make these antibodies. Your body produces those antibodies again, stopping the virus or bacteria from making you sick.
Immunization Protects Us AllImmunization protects both individuals and the larger population by preventing the spread of infections. It is important to achieve and maintain high immunization rates in order to provide the best protection against vaccine preventable diseases.
- Polio has been eliminated in North and South America because most of the population has been immunized.
- Other infectious diseases like tetanus, diphtheria, measles, mumps, rubella and Haemophilus influenzae type b disease are exceedingly rare for the same reason.
- After a new vaccine program is introduced, getting an accurate picture of coverage rates is important to determine whether the program has been accepted by both health care providers and the public.
Last Updated: May 31, 2011