Everything You Need to Know About Vaccinations


  1. Why are vaccinations so important?
  2. How do vaccinations work?
  3. Why do we sometimes need more than one dose of a vaccination?
  4. Evaluating vaccinations
  5. How can you help your child revise this topic?


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GoStudent Expert Ishaa's Guide to Vaccinations


We’ve all heard about the controversy that surrounds vaccinations. But how do they work? Why do we sometimes need more than one dose? 

This article will explain the mechanisms of vaccinations and how exactly they protect us from diseases.

When it comes to taking your child to a vaccination appointment, it’s often bittersweet. On one hand, you know that your child will be in pain temporarily. On the other hand, you know that your child will be protected from disease in the future 🙌🏼


Why are vaccinations so important?


This is a definite topic that appears in GCSE and A level biology. Whether you need to refresh your memory on this topic to teach your children or are simply interested, keep on reading.

How do vaccinations work?


  • Vaccinations include injecting dead/ inactive pathogens (pathogens are ‘germs’ that cause a disease or illness), into your body. 
  • Immune system detects these pathogens as ‘foreign’ and starts an immune response. 
  • The immune response is called the primary immune response, as the response is quite slow. This is because this will be the first time your body is exposed to the type of pathogen injected.
  • Your body will recognise the pathogen and create antibodies that are exact to the pathogen. 
  • If you get infected by the same type of pathogens again, the response will be much quicker as your body will already recognise the pathogens.
  • The body will therefore create antibodies faster and at a greater concentration.


Why do we sometimes need more than one dose of a vaccination?


It’s simple. To ensure that we’re given extra protection 🙌🏼

Some vaccinations don’t give lifelong immunity, for example the COVID – 19 vaccine. The antibodies produced when we’re first injected with the vaccine may fade over time. Therefore extra doses (or a booster dose) are given to reintroduce the body to the pathogen.

Let’s take a closer look at the immune system, and look at the different cell types.

Our immune system is composed of different cell types to protect us 🤯

There are T cells and B cells. 

The T cells differentiate into T helper, T killer cells and T memory cells.

  • T killer cell - kills abnormal cells and infected body cells. 
  • T helper cell – Stimulate the B cells to divide and produce antibodies 
  • T memory cell – Remains in the blood for years and gives us long term protections.

The B cells differentiate into plasma cells and B memory cells 

  • B memory cell – Remain in the blood and provide long term protection
  • Plasma cells - They secrete antibodies. 


Evaluating vaccinations



  • Vaccinations provide herd immunity 🐑

Herd immunity is when a large percentage of the population is vaccinated against a specific disease. This also provides protection to unvaccinated people as the risk of the vaccinated individuals getting the disease and passing it on to the unvaccinated individuals is reduced. Before the COVID – 19 vaccinations, cases were high as people weren’t protected from the disease, however as vaccinations started rolling out, cases dropped.

  • Vaccines have helped control lots of infectious diseases that were once common in the UK e.g. polio, measles, whooping cough.
  • Big outbreaks of diseases, otherwise known as epidemics, can be prevented if a large percentage of the population is vaccinated.
  • Vaccines can provide lifelong protection against a disease 👴🏼
  • You will be protected from serious or potentially fatal diseases.


  • Not guaranteed to work or provide 100% protection
  • Possible side effects
  • Can be unpleasant or painful 😕


How can you help your child revise this topic?


Revising biology can seem tricky for your child. They may get frustrated with the amount of content they have to memorise and understand. However, these three steps will make the process more manageable:

  • 😎Revise the content: This stage involves understanding the concepts in the topic, just like the primary response and secondary response of the immune system in response to vaccinations. Revision can be done using YouTube videos or resources online. You could also hire a biology tutor from GoStudent. Our tutors will help your child understand key biology content and use study plans to tailor lessons to increase understanding and confidence.
  • 🤓Memorise the content: This is important because it will lay the foundation for the next stage. Get your child to memorise the content. Every child has a unique way of tackling this step. However, as an experienced biology tutor, I recommend using the blurting technique -  which is getting a blank piece of paper, and without looking at your notes, write down everything you remember, then using a different coloured pen look back at your notes and see if any information is missing and write it down on the piece of paper you blurted on and then repeat.
  • Past paper questions: This is undoubtedly the most important step, to ensure your child achieves top grades. Print your child past papers and get them to do these under exam conditions. Maybe you can act as the invigilator! After attempting the paper, ask them to mark the paper using the mark scheme and ensure that they’re not too lenient whilst marking their papers.

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