10 Jul Immunization Series Part 2
Why are immunizations important for your pet’s health? Read further to learn more about the importance of immunization 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 this invasion, commonly referred to as an infection. The first time the body recognizes the infection, certain proteins called antibodies are created to fight the specific infection. The next time the body encounters this same type of infection, the specific response will be initiated more rapidly since the body has seen the invader before and now has protective antibodies to quickly respond and mount a strong immune response with the intent of clearing the infection or at least limiting its presence in the body.
How do vaccines build immunity?
When your pet is vaccinated, the vaccine mimics an infection but does not cause true disease. The vaccine stimulates the body to mount an immune response against the infection. This immune response results in the production of antibodies that specifically target the infection. By doing this, if your pet were to become infected in the future, antibodies would already be present to fight off the disease and produce a stronger immune response than they would have without having had the vaccine. By immunizing pets, we are boosting their immune system’s response to certain infections, thus providing a figurative wellness shield around them.
How soon do vaccines take effect?
The immunization process often begins with giving an initial vaccine, then a few weeks later one or multiple booster vaccines are administered. 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 and antibody production. 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 exposed to an infectious agent just before or just after immunization are still at risk for developing the disease since their body has not had time to build significant 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, or lyme disease. Routine vaccination is important to help protect your pet from becoming infected or passing an infection, which can lead to serious diseases.