We have all heard of the infamous COVID-19 parties. Most of these gatherings were put together in order for individuals to train their immune systems to fight off the infection through exposure. One could say that they were organized immunization parties.
Organized exposure to an infectious disease in order to build immunity is a dangerous idea. Let’s discuss why you shouldn’t get a disease on purpose and what you can do instead to protect yourself.
Isn’t That How Vaccines Work?
While it seems logical to get a disease on purpose in order to teach the immune system how to recognize and fight against it in the future, the actual process isn’t that straightforward. But, isn’t that how vaccines work? Not quite. Vaccines are created by using weakened or inactivated preparations of a pathogen. These preparations are then introduced into the body systematically to provide protection.
When you expose yourself to a disease on purpose through intentional association with infected individuals, you are not taking in a weakened or inactivated form of the pathogen that causes the disease. You’re taking in the fully virulent and dangerous form of the pathogen. As a result, you and those around you may suffer some very dangerous consequences.
Dangers of Intentional Infection
Everyone’s immune system is different. Our current health, lifestyle, age, upbringing and natural exposure all impact the strength of our immune systems. If you intentionally get infected with a disease, your immune system actually may not be able to handle it and you may suffer long term complications.
For example, the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is highly infectious but relatively weak compared to previous stains of the virus. However, some medical professionals say that it is still possible to suffer some of the long term effects that were seen with the alpha (initial) strain of COVID-19. Intentionally getting infected with Omicron in order to acquire immunity could lead to long term respiratory complications, similar to complications that resulted from the alpha strain.
The people in your community may have weaker immune systems than you. If you choose to get a disease on purpose, you may tolerate the sickness well and develop the desired immunity. However, you will most likely infect others in the community. Those around you might be elderly or immunocompromised and may not be able to fight off the infection. Your choice of intentional infection might lead to someone else’s hospitalization or even death.
A Better Alternative
A much better alternative to intentionally getting a disease is to get vaccinated. Many infectious diseases have vaccines that can be taken to prevent illness. For example, the virus that causes COVID-19 has a very safe and effective vaccine as well as booster doses to help maintain immunity. These vaccines are safer than natural exposure to the virus and will help keep you and your community safe.
Passport Health offers a variety of vaccines to help you stay healthy at home and abroad. Call or book online to schedule your appointment today.
Ese Agboh is a student nurse who wants to specialize in pediatric nursing and wound care. In her free time, she enjoys reading and writing articles related to medicine and the pathophysiology of communicable diseases. Ese currently lives and studies on the east coast of the United States.