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{ 6 }  SNJ Today  |  AUGUST 4, 2021                                                                                                                                                                                                                            AUGUST 4, 2021  |   { 7 }
             COMMUNITY UPDATE                                                   Five Fast Facts to Help You Understand Vaccines

                                                                                   Source: Inspira Health
                                                                                   Immunization—having immunity against diseases and infections through vaccina-
       National Farmers Market Week, August 1–7, 2021                           tion—prevents nearly 3 million deaths each year. Yet there are many misconceptions
          The U.S. Department of Agriculture is celebrating the 22nd annual National   about vaccines, including how they work and why they are necessary. To help us
       Farmers Market Week, August. 1-7, 2021. In a proclamation, USDA Secretary   understand how vaccines strengthen our communities, here are five fast facts you
       Tom Vilsack noted that “…farmers markets serve as significant outlets for small-  should know about vaccines and the immune system.
       to-medium, new and beginning, socially disadvantaged, and veteran agricultural   1. Our immune system allows us to battle known and unknown diseases.
                                                                                   The human body is powerful. So powerful, in fact, that it comes with its own
       producers to market agricultural products, in turn generating revenue that sup-
       ports the sustainability of family farms and the revitalization of rural communi-  defense software—the immune system.
       ties nationwide…and farmers markets play a critical role in the Biden-Harris   “The immune system has front line responders called white blood cells that travel
       Administration’s Build Back Better Initiative by connecting producers and con-  the body to detect and destroy harmful pathogens such as viruses and bacteria,” said
       sumers to strengthen nutritional security, and contributing to a fair, competitive,   Ed Dix, PharmD., Director of Pharmacy for Inspira Medical Center Mullica Hill.
                                                                                   “For example, when a pathogen enters our body, white blood cells send signals tell-
       distributed, and resilient
       food system.”                                                            ing our body to suit up—which usually involves sneezing, coughing, inflammation and/
          In a USDA blog,                                                       or fever. This is our immune system trying to rid our body of dangerous invaders and
       Betsy Rakola, associ-                                                    keep us healthy.”
                                                                                   2. Our body remembers disease-causing pathogens so it can protect us in
       ate deputy administra-                                                   the future.
       tor in the Transportation
       and Marketing Program                                                       While fighting off germs is an essential responsibility of our immune system, it also
       at USDA’s Agricultural                                                   has another important responsibility—it memorizes what the invaders look like and
       Marketing Service, dis-                                                  how to fight them in case we are exposed to them again. This is known as the adaptive
       cussed findings from the                                                 immune system.
                                                                                   “The adaptive immune system—which enters the battlefield after the first respond-
       2019 National Farmers
       Market Managers survey.                                                  ers—is armed with special white blood cells called B cells and T cells. In addition to
       According to the survey,                                                 attacking the virus or bacteria, they store information about this invader so that if and
       there are more than 8,000                                                when this pathogen comes back, the body knows how to destroy it—and without mak-
       farmers markets across the                                               ing the body as ill.”
                                                                                   3. Vaccines expedite the adaptive immune system’s response.
       country, and the farm-level
       benefits for farm vendors,                                                  “By injecting a weakened or killed form of the pathogen, or something that resem-
       include:                                                                 bles it, the body builds immunity without being exposed to the germ that causes the
          •67 percent increased                                                 actual disease. Simply, vaccines spark the body’s adaptive immune system so that in
       overall production                                                       the future, our body doesn’t have to face invaders unarmed,” said Dr. Dix. “There are
                                                                                several types of vaccines. Each type is designed to teach our immune systems to fight
          •33 percent increased
       the number of workers                                                    off certain types of germs and prevent the serious diseases they cause.”
       employed on the farm                                                        Information about the types of vaccines used to prevent different illnesses can be
          •Nearly 40 percent were                                               found at
       able to sell imperfect products that                                        4. The COVID-19 vaccines are new, but not untested vaccine types.
                                                                                   “The most important takeaway about COVID-19 vaccines is that they do not
       would otherwise go unsold
          •77 percent diversified the types                                     contain any live virus and cannot give you COVID. The mRNA COVID-19 vaccines
       of agricultural products they grew                                       provide the blueprints for our cells to make the COVID-19 spike protein (which is
          In a second USDA blog, Christina                                      harmless), sparking a very robust development of immunity,” said Dr. Dix. “While the
       Conell, deputy director in the                                           mRNA vaccine is a newer vaccine platform, it is not untested. Scientists have been
                                                                                studying mRNA vaccines for over a decade and no steps were skipped from a safety
       Marketing Services Division at the
       AMS Transportation and Marketing                                         or efficacy standpoint. The same holds true for the other types of COVID-19 vaccines,
       Program, outlined the AMS resourc-                                       which use proteins and genetic material from the virus to trigger a response and build
       es available to support farmers mar-                                     immunity, without the risk of contracting COVID-19,” Dr. Dix explained.
       kets, including grants, data, technical                                     5. Vaccines help us achieve herd immunity.
                                                                                   While getting vaccinated helps protect you from known diseases, you play a very
       assistance and promotion through its
       free, online farmers market directory                                    important role in an even bigger picture—helping to create herd immunity.
       and other local and regional food                                           “When approximately 75 percent or more of our communities are vaccinated
       directories.                                                             against an infectious disease like COVID-19, we achieve herd immunity, which makes
                                                                                it harder to spread and contract the disease,” said Dr. Dix. “And as previously men-
                                                                                tioned, immunity can be built one of two ways: either getting the disease and recover-
                                                                                ing from it or getting vaccinated. However, studies have shown that being vaccinated
                                                                                against COVID provides longer-term immunity compared with those who have
                                                                                contracted COVID and developed a temporary immunity that begins to wane after 90
                                                                                   “It’s worth repeating, vaccines are able to give us more sustained immunity without
                                                                                the potentially serious risks associated with getting COVID-19.”
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