The word “vaccination” can raise strong arguments from critics on both sides of the whether to vaccinate or not debate. However, a clear understand of what vaccines are and how they work can help individuals make an informed decision.
What are Vaccines?
A vaccine is a substance that is created to stimulate the body to produce antibodies to provide immunity against a disease. Vaccines are synthetic substitutes of a disease that are put into the body to hopefully prevent the body from having that disease because it will have produced antibodies for it.
How Do Vaccines Work?
Vaccines work in a three-step process:
1. Vaccines expose an individual to a small, but safe, amount of a weakened version of a virus or bacteria.
2. An individual’s immune system is activated and it learns to attack the “invader”.
3. The individual is less likely to become ill if exposed to the bacteria or virus later.
Types of Vaccinations Available
Vaccines are divided into seven different categories: live, inactivated, subunit, toxoid, conjugate, DNA and recombinant vector. The more well-known and widely used are live, inactivated, subunit and toxoid. Live vaccines are the closest thing to a natural infection. Because they are so similar to the virus, they offer the highest level of immunity. However, handling of them can be dangerous.
Inactivated vaccines More stable and safer than live vaccines, inactivated vaccines are produced by scientists by killing the disease-causing microbes of the live vaccine. These often require several booster shots because they are not as potent as live vaccines. Subunit vaccines Include only the portion of the virus that best stimulates the immune system’s response. Toxoid vaccines are used when a bacterial toxin is the primary cause of illness. The body receives this vaccine and learns how to fight.
Nurses are responsible for administering vaccines, and therefore should have a full understanding of the things they are handling. Though a pediatrician will likely be available to answer any questions a parent may have about vaccines, it would be a good idea to have a fairly rounded knowledge about vaccines in case a parent directs the question to the nurse. Certified nursing assistants do not have the medical training required to administer vaccines so they do not need to have as clear of an understanding about the vaccines given to children, though it wouldn’t hurt. There are even some CNA classes online that provided a limited amount of training about vaccinations.