How do vaccines work in our body?

immunization This is how vaccines work


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Vaccination: This means preparing the body for dangers that it may face at some point in the future. A trained immune defense can fight pathogens against which it would have no chance without preparation. What processes take place in the body during a vaccination?

Status: 04/28/2021

Antibodies are one of the most powerful weapons of the immune system. Millions of them circulate in the blood and attach themselves to pathogens. The pathogens loaded with antibodies are then recognized by defense cells and eaten.

Vaccination is the preparation for future diseases

Only certain antibodies fit on each pathogen. During an infection, the production of these matching antibodies increases until the intruder is defeated. The body then moths the production cells for these antibodies. Should the same pathogen enter the body again, the defense activates these cells and therefore produces the corresponding antibodies much faster than at the first contact. Therefore, the pathogen hardly has a chance with the second infection.

This "memory" of the immune system is the reason that many - not all - "teething troubles" only go through once, and that one can prepare the body for future diseases with this so-called active vaccination.

Vaccination used to mean: production of antibodies

Although smallpox is considered to be eradicated, the vaccine for emergencies is still stored in millions in Germany today.

Vaccination involves "infecting" the body with weakened pathogens. These can be living pathogens that have been weakened by special breeding or radiation (live vaccine). In other cases, killed pathogens serve as a vaccine (dead vaccine). A vaccine is particularly safe if it only contains individual components of the pathogen that have been genetically engineered, for example. The immune defense reacts to the training opponents like to real pathogens: It produces the appropriate antibodies. Because the training pathogen is weakened, the body builds up its antibody memory without causing illness. This gives him the decisive training advantage with which he can successfully fight a real infection.

mRNA vaccines - the new generation of vaccines

The mRNA vaccines use non-inactivated or weakened pathogens for immunization like conventional vaccines. Instead, the mRNA active ingredient confronts some body cells with the genetic information of the virus, which is stored in the mRNA (= messenger ribonucleic acid). The mRNA provides the blueprint for individual proteins in the virus, which are also known as antigens. The antigens activate the immune system and, if successful, trigger the protective immune response.

With mRNA vaccines, in contrast to conventional vaccines, the body only receives the genetic information. The body then produces the antigen itself. In the event of subsequent contact, the immune system basically recognizes the antigen and can fight the virus in a targeted manner.