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Vaccines are able to prevent a particular disease and reduce severe cases of disease symptoms. The vaccine prevents the disease from taking hold in the body, as it stimulates the immune response to the specific disease. Most vaccines contain a very weakened or inactivated (killed) form of the virus or bacteria that usually causes disease, or a small part of the virus or bacteria – this is called an antigen. In some circumstances, a person can still get the disease even after receiving the recommended doses of the vaccine. This is due to the fact that the person does not develop sufficient immunity against the disease or the immunity weakens over time. However, in such cases, the symptoms of the disease are often milder than they would have been without vaccination. Vaccinated people are also less likely to infect others. Mandatory vaccinations are provided free of charge to those registered at the Sokratos Family Clinic.

Each virus and bacteria triggers a unique immune system response, including a specific set of cells in the blood, bone marrow, and throughout the body called T cells, B cells, and more. When a person is vaccinated, his immune system recognizes the antigen as “foreign”. This activates the cells of the immune system to destroy the disease-causing virus or bacteria and produce antibodies against them. Antibodies are special proteins that help destroy a virus or bacteria. If a person comes in contact with the actual infectious virus or bacteria, their immune system will “remember” it. It will then quickly produce the necessary antibodies and activate the immune cells to destroy the virus or bacteria, protecting the person from the disease. Immunity usually lasts for a year, and sometimes for life. The time varies depending on the disease and the vaccine. Vaccinated person immunity protects not only the immunized person, but also unvaccinated people in the community, such as babies who are too young to be vaccinated. This “herd immunity” can only work if enough people are vaccinated.

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New generation vaccines:

Some newer vaccines do not contain the antigen. Instead, they contain “instructions” that tell the body’s cells how to make an antigen identical to a small particle of a real virus.

These instructions may include: mRNA in mRNA vaccine; a modified, harmless virus in the form of a viral vector vaccine. When a person is injected with an mRNA or viral vector vaccine, some cells in the body recognize it, produce an antigen for a short period of time, before breaking down the mRNA or harmless virus. The human immune system then classifies the antigen as “foreign”, activates immune cells and produces antibodies. Some COVID-19 vaccines work using mRNA or a modified virus. Of the COVID-19 vaccines registered in the EU from 2021 In March, Cominarty and Moderna are mRNA vaccines, while Vaxzevria (formerly AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine) and Janssen are vector vaccines.

Advantages of vaccination

Vaccines protect against diseases that could otherwise cause serious health problems, permanent disability, or even death.

Every year, hundreds of millions of people around the world use vaccines to protect themselves from serious diseases. For example, in 2018 about 86% of infants worldwide have received three doses of the vaccine to protect them against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTP), and 85% of infants worldwide have received three doses of the polio vaccine. In contrast to treatment designed to cure a disease, healthy people are routinely vaccinated to prevent disease. Therefore, the long-term benefits of vaccination may not be immediately apparent.

Many infectious diseases are very rare today thanks to vaccinations, so the negative consequences of these diseases are sometimes forgotten. If people stopped vaccinating, many of these diseases and related outbreaks could return.

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