10 Jul Immunization Series Part 2
Why are immunizations important for your pet’s health? We have been developing and giving vaccines for years, but the science behind them can seem a little confusing at times. Read on to learn more about the importance of vaccines and how they work with the immune system to fight off disease!
How does the immune system work?
When germs invade the body, the body recognizes them as foreign invaders and initiates a series of events to fight off the infection. The first time the body recognizes the infection, certain cells called antibodies are created to fight that type of infection. Because these antibodies are tailored to this infection in particular, they are able to initiate a stronger, more effective response. The next time the body encounters this same type of infection, a response can be initiated more rapidly, since the body has fought off the invader before, and now has protective antibodies to mount a strong attack.
How do vaccines build immunity?
When your pet gets a vaccine, it mimics an infection, but does not cause true disease. The vaccine stimulates the body to mount an immune response against it. By doing so, this leads to the production of antibodies that act specifically against the disease for which the vaccine was made. If your animal was to encounter this disease in the future, antibodies would already be present to fight off the disease. This produces a stronger immune response than they would have without having had a vaccine. By giving pets vaccines, we are boosting their immune system’s response to certain infections and promoting antibody production.
How soon do vaccines take effect?
The immunization process often begins with giving an initial vaccine, then giving one or multiple booster vaccines a few weeks later. Sometimes the body needs to be exposed to the infectious agent more than once to build a strong immune response to fight it off. Because of this, many vaccines require a “booster”, or subsequent vaccine to increase the body’s immune response. Because of the time it takes to build an immune response, it may take a few weeks for the vaccine to have fulfilled its purpose. This is why animals who are infected with a disease just before or just after vaccination are still at risk for developing true disease until their body has had time to build immunity.
Why are they important?
Many of the vaccinations we have today were created for diseases that are highly infectious and can spread rapidly from one animal to the next. Other vaccines help prevent diseases that are serious and fatal to those who become infected. Some diseases are zoonotic, meaning they can be spread from animals to people. Vaccinating your pets will better protect you and your family from exposure to zoonotic diseases like rabies, leptospirosis, and many more that may have been prevented with appropriate vaccination. Routine vaccination is important to help protect your pet from becoming infected with or passing on serious diseases.