What are vaccines and are they really necessary? The importance of vaccination has been a source of endless debate among medical professionals, parents, and activists.
Vaccines are medical products developed by pharmaceutical companies. The purpose of vaccines is to promote immunity and gain protection against infectious and life-threatening diseases. Contrary to what some may think, civilizations have been practicing immunization for hundreds of years. Variolation, a crude method of immunization, was used in parts of Asia centuries ago. Buddhist monks, on the other hand, would boost their immunity to snakebites by drinking snake venom. In 1796, Edward Jenner inoculated a 13-year old boy with cowpox virus to stimulate immunity to the smallpox virus that was prevalent at that time. The BCG (Bacillus-Calmette-Guerin) vaccine is a bacterial vaccine that was developed by Albert Calmette and Camille Guérin from 1908 to 1921. It is typically administered to infants and children to protect them from tuberculosis, though some parents have reservations about vaccinating younger kids nowadays.
Immunization not only boosts a person’s immunity against bacteria, viruses, and parasites, it can also help eradicate diseases and infections for good. For example, smallpox was eliminated in the U.S. in 1972, and in the following years, smallpox was the first disease to be eradicated worldwide.
Are Vaccines Safe?
To be released in the market, vaccines have to be proven safe and effective by undergoing years of clinical testing. However, vaccines may also have side effects since these are medical products created through scientific research. It is vital for a healthcare practitioner to fully explain the possible negative reactions that an individual can experience when immunized with a certain vaccine. Vaccination is essential in preventing the spread of dangerous diseases, but vaccine safety is also very important. Knowing the possible adverse effects and reactions brought about by vaccines will help you understand the remedial action you should take in case you experience something out of the ordinary.
Possible Negative Reactions And Side Effects Of Vaccines
It is crucial to note that not everyone who receives a certain vaccine will experience an adverse side effect. Different people have different body chemistries that influence the likelihood of negative reactions to vaccines. Here are some of the most common adverse reactions that one can experience due to vaccines:
Is your arm tingling after flu shot? Guillain-Barré Syndrome or GBS is not a common disorder, but people who suffer from it experience vision problems, difficulty swallowing, and problems with coordination. Guillain-Barré Syndrome is not contagious, but medical professionals consider it an autoimmune disorder wherein the person’s immune system attacks the nervous system.
Studies suggest that a flu vaccine recipient has a higher risk of developing this neurological disorder. If you are worried about the danger of getting GBS but prefer to receive your yearly flu vaccine, it’s best to convey your concerns to your doctor. Should you have any reason to believe that the symptoms that you are experiencing is Guillain-Barré Syndrome, have yourself checked immediately to get the proper medical treatment.
Any drug or medication can produce a severe allergic reaction. Anaphylaxis is characterized by difficulty in breathing, as well as redness or itching of the skin. It can occur within a few minutes of administration, so it is best to wait at the place where the vaccine was administered for easier checking. The risk of developing anaphylaxis after immunization may be a rare occurrence, but it is still possible.
Vomiting And Diarrhea
It is possible to feel nauseous and experience stomach discomfort after vaccination. Receiving Rotavirus, for example, can cause diarrhea and vomiting for several days after injection. It is best to monitor those experiencing continuous vomiting and diarrhea to prevent the body from suffering immensely due to dehydration.
Some people may feel irritable a few hours after immunization – this is perfectly understandable since some vaccines cause mild headaches, muscle pains, drowsiness, and loss of appetite. These symptoms should fade in a period of 24 to 48 hours and usually don’t require any immediate medical assistance. However, if the symptoms last more than two days, it’s best to seek help from a medical professional.
Swelling And Discomfort
One of the common reactions that you may experience due to vaccines is swelling and redness over the affected area. This is considered a local reaction where there is noticeable discomfort, but it rarely lasts long. A low-grade fever may also accompany it. Your doctor may recommend placing a cold compress over the injection site to ease the swelling. Paracetamol can be taken if necessary, but aspirin should be avoided.
Although vaccines were designed to protect against infections and diseases, they can still cause adverse effects. Before scheduling yourself or your child for immunization, it would be best if you request for the vaccination information sheet that contains the typical and not-so-common negative reactions of the drug. Nerve damage caused by immunization, for instance, is not a trivial or simple matter. Serious negative side-effects should be reported to the relevant government agency in charge of vaccine safety after receiving the required medical treatment.