Booster shot: Why it is needed?

Booster shot: Why it is needed?

Vaccination has increased the average lifespan of human beings to a great extent. It is one of the major developments in last hundred years. Many diseases which were known to kill the children in young age are no more a major health concern in today’s era. Many of the diseases are very near to the extinction and this is huge success. 

We all know about vaccination. Here we will discuss about the booster shot as many of us may have heard about it. Very few people know about the role of booster vaccine. Here we will explain in details about the booster shot. First we will give you a background idea about vaccination. Let us list the important points in this regard:

  • · What is immunity?
  • · How does vaccine work?
  • · What is primary vaccination?
  • · What is booster shot or booster vaccine? 
  • · How does booster shot work?
  • · Booster shot: Why is it needed?
  • · Some examples of booster shot.

Let us explain above points one by one so that you can get an idea about the booster shot or booster vaccine.

What is immunity?

Many of you may already know that in day to day life we all are exposed to disease causing agents from our environment. These disease causing agents may be small in size invisible to the naked eyes. Even these small beings called as micro-organism may cause a deadly disease when they attack us. So, to counter this attack and to get protection we have got the mechanism that fights the disease causing mechanism. This fighting mechanism against disease causing agents is called as immunity.

So in short immunity is the mechanism that protects us from the diseases. When we are newborn we have innate immunity that protects us from the diseases. Then we get exposed to these attackers from environment our immunity gets training to fight against the attackers and we develop adaptive immunity. So innate immunity is present at birth and throughout the life we develop adaptive immunity.

How does vaccine works?

As we discussed in above paragraph that after exposure to attacking disease agent we develop adaptive immunity. But if we are exposed to the real attacker we may also suffer the real disease and if immunity fails to act in time or the attacker is stronger there may be loss of life. So to develop the immunity against disease without getting disease we have vaccines. 

Basically how vaccine works is it contains the disease causing agents live but attenuated or killed. Attenuated means they are live but they don’t have disease causing capacity. When the vaccine is injected to a person or in some cases given orally the immunity identifies the attacker. It fights this incapable attacker as if it fights real infection. In the process your immunity gets training yo fight against the real disease. In this process it also develops the memory about how to fight the infecting agent that cause real disease. So, when the agent that cause real disease infects you your immunity rapidly ramp up the fight and easily overcome the infection you are suffering. So, the diease is prevented.

What is primary vaccination?

When the vaccination is given first time to introduce the infecting agents to your immunity it is primary immunization or vaccination. This can be a single does or sometimes it takes time to identify the agent so multiple doses at certain intervals are needed. The role of primary vaccination is introducing the infecting agent to your immunity so that it can produce sufficient fighting mechanism against the real disease.

The drawback of primary immunization is though it produced or develops immunity in sufficient levels but it may fail to sustain it for longer period.

What is booster shot or booster vaccine?

Like its name implies it is a vaccine to be given to boost the immune response that is already present. It implies that your immunity is already trained to fight the real disease but with booster dose it is further trained and the immune reaction is boosted. With booster the immune response is quicker and also large in proportion.

How does booster shot work?

Booster shot or booster vaccine further trains the immunity who has been exposed to the primary vaccines in adequate doses. It helps to boost the immune response and also it helps to further produce the memory mechanism in the immune response.

Booster shot: why is it needed?

Though we can develop immunity against diseases with primary immunization, we need booster shot. Following are the points for which we need booster shots.

· Our immunity tends to forget certain diseases and immune response against it decreases after some years. To make remember immunity about the disease for long period of time we need booster.

· Booster also increases the capacity to fight against the diseases.

· With diseases getting less in number in childhood with vaccinations and immunity waning after some years some diseases are occurring more in adults. This phenomenon is called as epidemiological shift. To avoid the phenomenon of epidemiological shift we need to take boosters periodically. This is beneficial epidemiologically.

Some examples of booster shots:

· Measles or MMR: Measles or MMR Vaccine primary dose is given at age 9 months and booster is given at 18 months and 5 years of age.

· DPT or triplePrimary vaccine series of DPT is given at age 4, 6 , 10 weeks and the booster is need at age 18 months and 5 years. Then dose of Tdap is given every 5 yearly.

· Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine: Primary vaccine series is given at age 6, 10, 14 weeks and booster is given at age 18 months.

· Typhoid Conjugate vaccinePrimary dose is given at age 6-9 month and then booster is needed at 2 years.

· Hepatitis A vaccineIt is given at age 13 months primary dose and a booster is given after 6 months.

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