How Do Vaccinations Protect

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How Do Vaccinations Protect
How Do Vaccinations Protect

Video: How Do Vaccinations Protect

Video: How Do Vaccinations Protect
Video: How Vaccines Work, Herd Immunity, Types of Vaccines, Animation 2023, December

How do vaccinations protect

The primary task of the human immune system is to fight off pathogens. If a pathogen penetrates the body, immune cells such as the white blood cells recognize it as foreign. Antibodies are produced to fight the unwanted intruder. The immune system remembers which pathogen it reacted to. If there is renewed contact with the same pathogen, our immune system can react immediately. Antibody production starts much faster than at the first contact. This quick reaction makes it possible that a disease does not break out or only breaks out in a weakened form.


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  • The principle of a vaccination
  • The types of immunization
  • ">Obligation to inform about vaccinations



The principle of a vaccination

With a vaccination, weakened or killed pathogens or only components of pathogens are administered to the body. Our immune system is simulated that it is infected and it reacts by producing antibodies. If there is renewed contact with the "real" pathogen, the antibodies can react immediately and the disease is prevented in advance. A vaccination offers the possibility to train the immune system on a harmless opponent.

The types of immunization

There are three options available to protect the human organism against pathogens that cause disease.

Active immunization

The body can be immunized by the disease itself or by vaccination. The aim of active immunization is to protect the organism from the consequences of an infection in the long term. To do this, the doctor administers killed or weakened pathogens that can no longer cause serious illness themselves. The body is simulated that it is infected and it is stimulated to produce antibodies (and so-called memory cells) itself. If you become infected with the real pathogen at a later point in time, they can quickly become active and ward off the disease. The vaccination protection usually develops after a few weeks and lasts for several years. In the case of some infectious diseases, the vaccine protection once established is effective for a lifetime (e.g. measles, mumps).

Passive immunization

Passive immunization

In order to prevent or weaken an infection, finished antibodies (immunoglobulins) are supplied to the organism. The administered antibodies are effective immediately and can render the pathogen or its toxins harmless in a very short time. However, they are broken down by the body so that the protection lasts only a few weeks to a maximum of three months after passive immunization. Passive immunization can prevent the outbreak of an infectious disease after you have become infected with a pathogen. The finished antibodies are obtained from the blood fluid (serum) of vaccinated people (in rare cases also from animals) or are produced using genetic engineering.

Simultaneous immunization

With simultaneous immunization, the patient is immunized actively and passively at the same time. In this way you can use the advantages of both measures. On the one hand, passive immunization provides immediate protection. At the same time, long-lasting immunity is achieved through active immunization. The finished antibodies that were administered to the patient protect until their own antibodies are formed. Simultaneous immunization is necessary if people have been infected with a pathogen, the vaccination was long ago and it is not certain whether the person affected is still protected against this pathogen.

Simultaneous immunization is carried out, for example:

  • as tetanus prophylaxis (for injured persons without active vaccination) or
  • as rabies prophylaxis (after contact with an animal suspected of rabies).

Obligation to inform about vaccinations

In Austria, vaccination is a voluntary decision. There is no compulsory vaccination. It is up to you to decide whether or not you want to be vaccinated. In order to be able to reach a decision for or against a vaccination, information and clarification from the doctor are required.

Before carrying out a vaccination, the doctor is therefore obliged to inform the person being vaccinated (in the case of persons under the age of 14 also a parent or the person responsible for caring for and bringing up the child) about the disease to be prevented and the vaccination, so that they can give consent to vaccination. The education should include:

  • Information about the disease to be prevented
  • possible treatment options for the infectious disease
  • Benefits of vaccination for individuals and the general public
  • Information about the vaccine (e.g. live or dead vaccine)
  • possible side effects and / or complications
  • Contraindications
  • Information about the start and duration of the vaccination protection and the vaccination schedule
  • Need for booster vaccinations
  • Behavior after vaccination

Note In the case of underage minors (children under the age of 14), a declaration of consent must be obtained from a parent or the person entrusted with caring for and raising children. Responsible minors (from the age of 14) must give their own consent if they have the ability to see and judge.