COVID-19 Question: How Do Vaccines Work?

Vaccines can save lives. That much I know, for sure. The Asia-Pacific region, particularly in the tropics, is regarded by the WHO as a hotspot for outbreaks and emerging infectious diseases. That provides plenty of examples of what it is like to experience life without a vaccine for an infectious disease. There is also the example of the global influenza epidemic after the First World War. It swept through the world with devastating consequences.

My grandmother, in her teenage years, witnessed that global epidemic. The second wave of 1918 – 1920 when it hit the South Pacific, particularly Samoa. Its impact was catastrophic. My grandmother remembered the human devastation in her village. The wailing and the screaming, the horse and cart stopping by houses to pick up bodies for burial. They were dropping like flies. People were well one minute, and taken down by the virus the next. Indigenous populations were, like now, especially vulnerable.

Those experiences, of life without a vaccine, don’t seem to be heard by many today. Over the last decade, at least, many around the world have taken vaccines for granted. Is it because they have never known what it was like to grow up in a world where vaccines did not exist?

“Vaccines are one of the most effective tools we have in preventing and reducing the burden of infectious diseases. In the midst of the current pandemic, vaccines are once again poised to change the tide in our favor in the fight against a deadly virus. But how exactly do vaccines work? And are they safe?” – Yale School of Medicine.

Yale School of Medicine

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