Your immune system is like an army - here's how vaccines train it


Welcome to Video 1 of our series on Understanding Vaccines with Dr Noluthando Nematswerani, Head of the Discovery Health Centre for Clinical Excellence. In this article we explore how vaccines protect us by strengthening our immune systems, keep us and those around us safer.

Imagine your body is a country. Your immune system is your country's army that protects you against any form of invasion - be it bacteria, fungi, or viruses like the SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. Because SARS-CoV-2 is a new virus, your body hasn't had any previous exposure to it. So when your body is invaded by it, your army isn't ready to fight the infection. This means your 'troops' may be overpowered.

Some armies need more support than others

People with stronger immune systems have armies more able to fight Covid-19. But about 20% of infections - usually occurring in those with conditions like diabetes, hypertension, cancer or those over the age of 60 whohave weaker immune systems, result in hospitalisations or even admissions in critical care unitreato help overcome the virus. The good news is that vaccines can train our immune-system army, so that when we're infected, we're prepared for it.

How do vaccines prepare your body for battle?

Vaccines expose you to inactive forms of the virus, so it's bit like giving your body a fake virus or fake pieces of the virus - which won't actually harm you. Your immune system takes these as the real thing, and mounts an immune response. Then, when you get infected and are faced with the real virus, your body has a strong army that understands what it's facing and is far better equipped to deal with it.

Giving your army advance notice by getting vaccinated is one of the best things you can do to protect yourself and others from Coronavirus. Once you get your vaccine, allow yourself some time to get strong again, so your body is ready for battle!
Watch Dr Noluthando explain it here:

Find a more detailed explanation of how the SARS-CoV-2 virus works inside our bodies here, learn more about COVID-19 and vaccines here, and join the millions of South Africans who can proudly say, @#IGotMyVaccine!

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