The process of immunizing patients with immunization shots is often times misunderstood. The idea behind an immunization or vaccination is to expose the body to a chemical compound that “looks” like an invader to the system. This is because the body’s immune system is triggered by such an exposure. The immune system is contained in the Lymph Glands, Tissue Plasma Cells, Spleen, Thymus, Bone Marrow (including WBC’s or White Blood Cells) and other systems of the body. These cells recognize and kill foreign proteins meaning that anything that is not from your body will be rejected. Many people know this about organ transplants where a new Kidney for instance may be rejected by the patient’s system. The main reason for the existence of the immune system is to protect the body from foreign attack from microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Mankind has been very successful in eliminating diseases such as Polio, Tetanus, Diptheria, Meningitis, Chicken Pox, Shingles, Pneumonia and Flu with these vaccines. All of these disease have accounted for scores of death and disease and suffering in the past and it is a minor miracle that we have been able to rid Humanity of this scorge. We knew historically that once a person actually suffered, let’s say Chicken Pox, that it almost never recurred thereafter. We discovered that the reason for this was that infection with the virus, the foreign attacking agent, caused the immune system to produce antibodies to kill the attacker chemically. This specifically triggered immune response for Chicken Pox resulted in the increased development of the section of the immune system that made these specific antibodies. The result of this was that anytime that person was attacked by the Chicken Pox virus the immune system was very quickly stimulated to make a massive response to the virus thus killing it quickly and leaving it almost no chance to reestablish infection.

A number of people think that a vaccination thus involves putting the virus into the system in the hope of getting an immune response. The truth is that this is not how vaccines are made. In brief, a chemical very close to the real deal is engineered genetically such that it doesn’t cause the actual disease but does result in an immune response. Other vaccines are made by chemically altering the chemical such that it cannot cause the disease or causes it only very slightly but does still cause the immune system reaction. The point is that we’re tricking the immune system to think we’ve been attached and infected when we really haven’t and we thus get the benefit of its response to make sure thereafter that we never do get the disease without ever having to have it the first time. Many of the new cancer drugs coming out incorporate these strategies to stimulate a strong and quick immune response for cancer.

So, the average person should not be afraid to get vaccinated. Usually, the worst that happens is that you have a sore arm for a few hours which can be relieved by almost any OTC pain pill. However, there are situations where getting a vaccine may be linked to medical malpractice. It should be a red flag to a physician if a person has had previous reactions to vaccines or other drugs of any sort. It should be a red flag if a patient is already being treated for allergies or even has food allergies (especially to eggs). It should be a red flag if a patient is on steroid medications or other drugs meant to treat cancer. It might very well be medically negligent in these situations to not first complete the care of the other problems before giving the vaccination. In most situations a little bit of planning and attention to details allow the vaccine to be given simply at another time.