A vaccine is a preparation whose function is to generate acquired immunity against a disease by stimulating the production of antibodies. Vaccines have been an essential contribution to the increase of life expectancy, being considered the fundamental preventive tool in animals and humans.
Not all diseases whose predisposition is studied in a genetic test have vaccines, however vaccines have helped to save the lives of millions of people in epidemics or common diseases, such as influenza. These preparations are made up of an agent similar to the microorganism causing the disease, either the killed or attenuated microorganism, or products derived from it. Thus, when the attenuated part of the microorganism is introduced, the individual’s organism recognizes it as something foreign and creates antibodies against it.
In the immune system there is what is known as immunological memory. When a pathogen first comes into contact with the immune system, a corresponding immune response is initiated. This immune response is remembered by the immune system so that on subsequent exposure to the pathogen, the organism will quickly and specifically recognize the antigen and eliminate it from the body. This is the basis of vaccines.
By introducing only part of the pathogen, disease does not develop in the individual. However, your body will create the necessary antibodies to act against the pathogen, thus developing immunological memory.
It is because the second immune response is faster than the first that vaccination is so important. Should a vaccinated person suffer from the disease for which he or she has been vaccinated, his or her body will deal with the pathogen more effectively.
Vaccines save millions of lives annually and are considered one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions. The vaccines that have saved the most lives are the vaccines for smallpox, rinderpest, polio, hepatitis B, yellow fever, pertussis, rabies, measles, tetanus and diphtheria.
Currently, a large number of potential vaccines for common diseases continue to be studied. In addition, possible vaccines for inherited diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease, are being investigated. It is important to know the genetic predisposition to suffer from certain diseases because, as studies and research progress, it will become necessary to perform genetic tests on the population in order to know which people should be vaccinated against certain diseases.
The efficacy of vaccines is unquestionable, they save millions of people and prepare the body against diseases that can be potentially harmful to our health. It is expected that in the coming years new vaccines will come to light that will significantly improve the health of many people.