Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Claire. Claire Wonders, “why do we need shots” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Claire!
Do you dread getting shots? Many people do. It’s hard to imagine anyone really enjoys getting poked with a sharp needle, right? But parents and doctors will tell you that shots are necessary.
Sometimes shots help you feel better when you’re sick. Other times, they help immunize your body. They can stop you from getting sick in the first place. Have you ever thought about what it means to be immune?
Your immune system works hard to defend your body. It’s made up of many special cells, proteins, and organs. They work together to fight against germs and other tiny organisms that attack the body. Sometimes, the immune system needs a little help. That’s where vaccines can come in handy.
Occasionally, substances will invade the body. These are called antigens. Their presence triggers the immune system to start a process called the immune response. This will attack the antigens. The goal is to prevent infection and disease and keep the body healthy.
The immune system’s primary defense cells are white blood cells. These are also known as leukocytes. They can be found throughout the body. This includes lymph nodes, the thymus, the spleen, and bone marrow.
When an antigen is detected in your body, the immune response starts. Leukocytes create special proteins called antibodies that attach themselves to the antigens. Leukocytes also memorize the antigens. This way, they can make more antibodies if they ever detect the same antigens again.
This memorization function is very important. It can stop you from getting the same illness more than once. Take chickenpox for example. Once most people have it once, they don’t catch the illness again. They become immune to it. That’s because the immune system knows how to fight it as soon as it’s detected. However, that’s not true for all illnesses. Some viruses, such as the one that causes the flu, change each year. That’s why people can have the flu more than once.
Scientists figured out long ago that this memorization function could help immunize people from diseases before ever getting them. Vaccines introduce antigens into your body in ways that won’t make you sick.
Often, the antigens are weakened or dead germs that your body can fight off easily. In doing so, your body builds up antibodies. These can protect you and prevent you from getting a particular disease in the future. This protection against harmful antigens is what it means to be immune.
Sure, shots aren’t fun. But they can help you stay healthy! They are an important part of healthcare. Talk with the adults in your family before your next check-up to make sure all your shots are up-to-date.
Standards: NGSS.LS1.A, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.9, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2