I Love Herd Immunity

I was reading an article the other day about some crazy anti-vaccine people (particularly those that claim a link between vaccination and autism – the comments section had plenty of those). Why do I call them crazy? They take the side of non-scientific and even anti-scientific ideas.

For starters, the idea that vaccination caused autism started with a paper that was later retracted in full. The paper referred only to the MMR vaccine. Subsequent studies and reviews of the paper indicate that the lead author of the article had numerous conflicts of interest and manipulated data. No other scientific study or paper has found a link between vaccines and autism. It’s dangerous to persist in thinking that vaccinating children causes autism.

Why is it dangerous? Not vaccinating children leads to a reduction in herd immunity. Herd immunity is the force that prevents outbreaks of disease. Vaccination disrupts “chains of infection,” so even very small numbers of individuals who were not vaccinated may be protected. I’m not going to try to explain further, but know that the lower the vaccination rate, the less herd immunity can be relied upon to prevent outbreaks.

Not vaccinating your children is dangerous from more than just a public health perspective.

“Many scientific and medical research studies have found that individuals who exercise religious and/or philosophical exemptions are at a greater risk of contracting infections, which put themselves and their communities at risk.”

Not only do anti-vaccination beliefs jeopardize the community, they put the unvaccinated children at serious risk of injury or death.

I found the resources on historyofvaccines.org to be compelling, well-researched and reasonable. I particularly like their analysis of the ethical issues of vaccination and their history of the vaccination schedule complete with plenty of statistics that demonstrate just how amazing are the effects of vaccination.

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2 thoughts on “I Love Herd Immunity

  1. Jimi says:

    I’ve vaccinated both of my children through all the stages. The only one I disagree with is the chicken pox vaccine as they are now discovering it is not as effective as they originally thought. Not to mention, when I was a kid we were all shipped to whoever had the chicken pox for an overnight visit and whamo we got it, two weeks later we were over it and hence immune.

    While I do agree with individual rights and choices, when it comes to not immunizing your children it is very irresponsible. The best analogy I have for this was an episode of Law and Order SVU (yes I know fiction, but it could happen) in which a baby dies under mysterious circumstances, later discovered to be measles and she was to young for the initial immunization. Come to find out she contracted measles at a public park by being exposed to a boy who was old enough to be immunized but wasn’t. That episode has always made me wonder where the responsibility for the death of that little girl lies.

    • I definitely understand the chicken pox skepticism. As for Law and Order episodes – a lot of them are based on true stories with various details changed. No guarantee that that particular episode didn’t have its basis in facts. 🙂

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