Vaccines are pharmaceutical products that contain very small quantities of microorganisms that cause infectious diseases and that are deprived of their infectious capacity by specific treatments but are not deprived of their ability to stimulate a response from our immune system.
They contain killed or attenuated infectious agents, antigens, or substances produced by certain microorganisms. Administration of a vaccine causes an immunological reaction similar to that produced by natural infection but without causing disease. The principle used is that of immunological memory, which is the ability of our immune system to “remember” microbes and viruses encountered in the past and provide an immediate and specific response. In this case, vaccination simulates the first contact with the infectious agent and stimulates the immune system to increase the concentration of specific cells and antibodies for that microorganism.
Vaccination is not just a personal benefit. Infectious diseases, in fact, are transmitted from person to person but, if the percentage of vaccinated subjects in a community is very high (> 95%), the transmission of the infectious agent is also reduced for that slice of the population which for particular conditions of health cannot receive the vaccine thus exploiting the principle of “herd immunity” which indirectly protects it.
The possibility of vaccinating against many infectious diseases is a pivotal achievement of global health in recent decades on our planet. Infectious diseases such as smallpox, diphtheria, tetanus, and many others have been the cause of pandemics and millions of deaths in the past are now a distant or limited memory.
The list of compulsory vaccinations has remained unchanged, causing, in fact, the division into two groups, compulsory and recommended vaccinations; however, even the latter are offered free of charge and actively by the National Health Service.
Vaccines do not cause autism in fact some studies carried out on children with autism have highlighted the presence of the symptoms of the disease already in the first months of life and therefore before the administration of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine. Furthermore, vaccines do not increase the risk, indeed, there are several scientific studies that show the opposite: according to the results obtained, regularly vaccinated children seem to be better protected against the development of allergies in the first years of life.