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Margulies Salk_Thank_YouSam woke up with a runny nose and a cough. He had the flu and couldn’t go to school. Sam’s mom, Rebecca, had to reorganize her day. The health of her child came first and after asking the window guy to come back another day, she brought a bowl of warm soup to Sam, hoping to ease his sore throat.

Sam wondered why he was sick. Didn’t he take the Flu shot last month, as the school wanted him to take? Rebecca replied to her sick son that the Flu shot is not perfect and does not always work. But Sam wanted to know more.

Rebecca told him about vaccines and how Polio and Small Pox were eradicated because of vaccines. Vaccines kick start the body’s immune system to fight infections. The immune system is sort of like the body’s army against foreign invaders. Scientists learned how to teach the body to fight and destroy Polio and Small Pox after they invaded the body, but before they could damage the body.

Basically, foreign invaders have a uniform that our army, that is our immune system, recognizes as foreign and not belonging to us. What scientists do is get a copy of the potential invader’s uniform from someone else who was invaded by the bad guys.

Doctors then use this stolen copy of the invader’s foreign uniform and teach our own army to recognize this uniform as foreign and bad. This is a vaccine, a purloined copy of the foreign invader’s uniform.

Once our army has been taught to recognize the foreign uniform, our army, that is, our immune system, stockpiles a whole armory, waiting for an invasion by this foreign invader.

When our scouts, specific white blood cells in our body, find and recognize a foreign uniform, these scouts alert the immune system and our army is mobilized to kill the foreign invaders. The armory for that specific uniform is opened and an intense battle is unleashed against this attacker.

The Flu is a much sneakier enemy because the flu changes its uniform all the time, making it harder for our immune system to spot the enemy and fight it. Our scientists are greatly challenged to steal a working copy of the uniform, because the Flu will change its uniform often and will also send out false uniforms to trick us.