(From “The Conversation”) – Humans are born helpless, with a lot of growth ahead of them. And, just as you must learn to walk, your immune system must learn to defend itself against infections. Your immune system develops in stages, similar to how you progressed from crawling to standing, walking, and running.This process is one of the reasons why scientists study the immune response to a vaccine in different age groups, and why the COVID-19 vaccines, for example, must be tested separately in children aged 5 to 11 and those aged 12 to 16. Doctors want to use the vaccine dose that offers the best protection while causing the fewest side effects. And that will be determined by how well the immune system functions based on how developed it is – something that cannot be determined from the outside. THE IMMUNE SYSTEM IS COMPRISED OF TWO HALVES.
The maturation of the immune system begins shortly after birth.When you’re born, your primary immune protection comes from antibodies passed down from your mother via the placenta and breast milk. They provide what is known as passive immunity. The adaptive immune system – the part of your immune system that produces your own antibodies – isn’t fully functional in newborns.
The process begins immediately, but it can take years for the adaptive immune system to mature.Fortunately, you are also born with what is known as an innate immune system, which lasts your entire life. It does not require learning to fight infections and promote health in the same way that the adaptive immune system does. People would become ill much more quickly and frequently if they did not have an innate immune system.The FDA issues a warning about hand sanitizers, citing a “growing safety issue.”Your skin and mucous membranes are the first points of contact for your innate immune system. If any germs manage to get past the physical barriers, it has enzymes ready to break down foreign organisms. Aside from that, there are specialised cells that look for anything that isn’t you in order to kill intruders, while phagocytes gobble up invaders.
As a result, your body’s first responder is the innate immune system. It buys you some time. The adaptive immune system then enters the fray and joins the fight.When you are immunised by a vaccine or an infection, your adaptive immune system begins actively producing antibodies of its own. They are proteins that act like suction cups and cling to viruses or bacteria, allowing the body to rid itself of the germs more quickly and prevent the infection from spreading. Antibodies are designed to recognise and eliminate a specific intruder.
The adaptive immune system can pick up on a new infection or recall one it hasn’t seen in a long time.VACCINES AFFECT IMMUNE DEVELOPMENTSimilarly to how an infant will learn to walk even if you don’t secure the stairwells and pool areas for them, your immune system can learn to squelch an invading virus without a vaccine – but the risk of injury is much higher.
Vaccines work by inducing the production of antibodies that recognise a specific germ and work to fight it off in a way that is safer than contracting the infection for the first time without it. The effectiveness of a vaccine is determined by the number of antibodies produced in response to it, their effectiveness, and the vaccine’s safety.Pfizer’s new COVID-19 pill reduces hospital and death risk by 90%. When working to fine-tune the dosage of a vaccine for different age groups, researchers must be aware of which parts of the immune system are active and which are not in people at each developmental stage.
This is why some vaccines, such as COVID-19, are tested and approved on different schedules for adults, teens, children, and babies.A number of vaccines for infants are administered in series, which means they receive the same type of shot several times over the course of a few months. At this age, a baby’s adaptive immune system is prone to being forgetful or not listening, similar to how a baby falters when attempting to stand and walk. With each exposure, every aspect of the immune system becomes stronger and more capable of defending against an impending infection.
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