Fundamental concepts in vaccination

Fundamental concepts in vaccination

Immunology and Vaccine-Preventable Diseases Immunology is a complicated subject, and a detailed discussion of it is beyond the scope of this text. However, an understanding of the basic function of the immune system is useful in order to understand both how vaccines work and the basis of recommendations for their use. The description that follows is simplified. Many excellent immunology textbooks are available to provide additional detail.

Immunity is the ability of the human body to tolerate the presence of material indigenous to the body (“self”), and to eliminate foreign (“nonself”) material. This discriminatory ability provides protection from infectious disease, since most microbes are identified as foreign by the immune system. Immunity to a microbe is usually indicated by the presence of antibody to that organism. Immunity is gener – ally specific to a single organism or group of closely related organisms. There are two basic mechanisms for acquiring immunity, active and passive.

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