Vaccination - Notions, myths and realities
Vaccination is an act of protection essential to everyone's health. Every unvaccinated individual runs the risk of becoming ill and increases the risk of disease transmission. Learn the essentials about vaccination.
What is a vaccine?
A vaccine is a preparation of components (antigens) of microorganisms (viruses or bacteria) that cause certain diseases and that has a high degree of safety, efficacy and quality. When administered, the vaccine triggers an immune system response directed against these same microorganisms. In this way immunity is created against a certain disease. Vaccines have a preventive function, not causing disease, but not curing it either. What they do is prevent the disease from developing, or mitigate the disease by reducing the intensity of the symptoms, if it does occur.
When should they be administered?
They are administered to healthy people, and generally the vaccination schemes start in childhood, so that an immune protection occurs as early as possible. Even in situations where this protection is not total, those who are vaccinated have a higher resistance to the respective diseases and lighter symptoms in case they develop them.
Compliance with the National Vaccination Program (NIP) aims to protect against diseases that can, in some cases, have serious complications and cause death.
Are there side effects?
Side effects from a vaccine are usually mild and temporary, and usually no treatment is needed. After administration of a vaccine, a slight increase in body temperature, pain and redness at the vaccine site may occur. Your doctor may prescribe medicine to reduce the fever, and may apply ice to the sting area for pain relief.
What is Group Immunity?
High vaccination coverage brings not only personal but collective benefits, preventing some diseases from spreading in the community and promoting their eradication. This phenomenon is called group immunity. It is also essential for, for example, pregnant women and children who are not yet of vaccination age to be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.
- "Is it better to become immunized by disease than by vaccination?" This is not true: natural disease, while also conferring protection can in some cases develop into serious complications and death, even in a healthy child.
"Do vaccines cause autism?" NO!
"If vaccine-preventable diseases are virtually eliminated and most children are vaccinated why should I vaccinate my child?" Besides the advantages of group immunity, some vaccine-preventable diseases, although rare in Portugal, exist in several parts of the world, including in some European countries, and any unvaccinated person can be infected and, consequently, get sick.
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