After satisfying yourself that your child is being fed well and you have lined up all the right things for him to eat, it’s time you thought of protecting him from common childhood ailments.
This process of protecting the child is called ‘Immunisation’ that begins as early as one month of age.
Immune (latin) for protection.
Immunity in lay language means resistance, ability to fight or protection against.
You will be surprised at the swiftness by which our body identifies a foreign or harmful substance and prepares for a war. Our body has its own armed forces (Immune System) in readiness to identify and attack any and all insurgents. Let’s take a look at the defence forces of our body.
Let’s take an invader ‘X’ that is trying to enter the human body and cause disease. The ammunition of ‘X’ is called the ANTIGEN. Our defence mechanism identifies this ANTIGEN and starts preparing its own specific answer to this ANTIGEN. The weapon to fight this ANTIGEN is called the ANTIBODY. We all know that it takes time to prepare something this important, hence it is our duty to keep commonly required weapons in readiness. Similarly our body also needs specific ANTIBODIES in readiness to fight ANTIGENS from commonly occurring ailments.
The Immune system (defence mechanism) is backed by a sub-mechanism known as the “Immunological memory” that recognises a foreign substance if it attacks again. The body then produces the same ANTIBODIES, which it had produced at the time of first invasion. Second time round these ANTIBODIES are produced more rapidly and in higher quantities.
Now we know well enough that if we have to protect our children from commonly occurring diseases they must have a defence mechanism in readiness with either ready ANTIBODIES or with good IMMUNOLOGICAL memory so that a attack could be launched immediately.
How do we achieve this?
By Vaccination! Of Course!
What is Vaccination?
Every child is to be exposed to the germs responsible for common childhood problems. Vaccination is deliberate introduction of the causative organism, in a healthy child, to incite an immune response.
A child may achieve Immunity in the following ways:
- From the mother, while still in the womb (passive immunity)
- By getting a disease and body producing natural antibodies (active immunity)
- By vaccines (active immunity)
- In emergency situations, where there is no time for the body to produce antibodies, by direct introduction of antibodies. (passive immunity
With so many different ways of acquiring Immunity, our focus is on Vaccination. Most of the childhood disorders leading to prolonged sickness, disability and death in many circumstances are easily preventable with vaccines being readily available.
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