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For financial immunization, see Immunization (finance).

Immunization, or immunisation, is the process by which an individual is exposed to an agent that is designed to fortify his or her immune system against that agent. The material is known as an immunogen. Immunization is the same as inoculation and vaccination in that inoculation and vaccination use a viable infecting agent like immunization does. When the human immune system is exposed to a disease once, it can develop the ability to quickly respond to a subsequent infection. Therefore, by exposing an individual to an immunogen in a controlled way, their body will then be able to protect itself from infection later on in life.


History of immunization

While Dr. Edward Jenner (1749-1823) has been recognized as the first doctor to give sophisticated immunization, it was British dairy farmer Benjamin Jesty who noticed that "milkmaids" did not become infected with smallpox and displayed a milder form. Jesty took the pus from an infected cow's udder and inoculated his wife and children with cowpox, thereby making them immune to smallpox.

By injecting a human with the cowpox virus (which was harmless to humans), Jenner swiftly found that the immunized human was then also immune to smallpox. The process spread quickly, and the use of cowpox immunization has led to the almost total eradication of smallpox in modern human society. After successful vaccination campaigns throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the World Health Organization (WHO) certified the eradication of smallpox in 1979.

Required immunizations upon entry to school

In the USA each state provides school districts with an obligation to regulate those eligible to enter public schooling. Since schools are congregate settings, and thus communication of diseases is a consideration, school districts may exclude children who seek to attend without the protection of certain immunizations.

For example, in the state of Ohio, USA, each student is required to provide proof of specific immunizations or have an authorized waiver from the requirement upon entry to school at age 6 years. If a student does not have the necessary immunizations or a waiver acceptable to the state, the school principal may refuse entry and require compliance with a set deadline. This procedure is for the safety of all students and follows Ohio State law.

Unless given a waiver, students must meet the following requirements:

  1. DPT (Diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus)—Five doses if the fourth one was before the fourth birthday.
  2. Measles—Two doses, the first one after 12 months of age, and the second at least 28 days after the first birthday.
  3. Rubella—Same as measles.
  4. Mumps—Same as measles.
  5. Polio—Four doses if the third was before the fourth birthday.
  6. Hepatitis B—For students starting kindergarten.

Additionally, for schools offering a pre-school program, add the requirements for two doses of haemophilus influenzae.

Passive and active immunization

Passive immunization

Passive immunization is where pre-made antibodies are given to a person. This method of Immunization begins to work very quickly, but it is short lasting, because the antibodies are naturally broken down, and not stored for later use. It can also result in serum sickness and anaphylaxis.

Passive immunization can be naturally acquired when antibodies are being transferred from mother to fetus during pregnancy, to help protect the fetus before and shortly after birth.

Artificial passive immunization is normally given by injection and is used if there has been a recent outbreak of a particular disease or as an emergency treatment to poisons from insects etc. The antibodies are normally produced in animals and injected into humans.

Active immunization

Active immunization is where the actual microbe is taken in by a person. Antibodies are created by the recipient and are stored permanently.

Active immunization can occur naturally when an untreated microbe is received by a person who has not yet come into contact with the microbe and has no pre-made antibodies for defence. The immune system will eventually create antibodies for the microbe, but this is a slow process and, if the microbe is deadly, there may not be enough time for the antibodies to begin being used.

Artificial active immunization is where the microbe is injected into the person before they are able to take it in naturally. The microbe is treated, so that it will not harm the injected person. Depending on the type of disease, this technique also works with dead microbes, parts of the microbe, or treated toxins from the microbe.

See also

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Immunization". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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