Health Matters: How vaccines work

By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Kyle Hamrick

Exposing a patient to a small dose of a disease has been a practice in medicine around the world for centuries.

Vaccines have eradicated or otherwise controlled many illnesses, from smallpox to polio to flu and COVID-19, and are a regular part of daily life in the 21st century.

Dr. Pamela Payne-Foster, a preventative medicine and public health physician teaching in the University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences, explained how vaccines work with a person’s immune system to keep them healthy.

“We usually take an antigen that’s the bacteria or virus and then we enter it into the body,” she said.

The antibodies in the immune system identify the antigen and develop a defensive responsive to it.

“The body makes antibodies against (the antigen), so that when they see it again they will then fight against it.”

For more information on COVID-19 vaccines, head over to, and for all your primary health care needs visit the University Medical Center with locations in Tuscaloosa, Northport, Demopolis, Fayette and Carrollton.


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