Herd Immunity: A Line of Defense

By: Amelia Froehlich ‘19

Vaccines are designed to protect communities and maintain a communities health.

What would you do if someone approached you with something that could almost ensure the longevity of your life and the life of those around you? Why wouldn’t you take it? Why wouldn’t you encourage other people to take it?

With the recent Measles outbreak in the U.S. immunization is more important than ever. Not immunizing your self or children in an outbreak like this is irresponsible. You put yourself, family and community at risk of contracting something like Measles.

Herd Immunity is started with a group of people that are immune to a dangerous disease and,
“A situation in which a sufficient proportion of a population is immune to an infectious disease (through vaccination and/or prior illness) to make its spread from person to person unlikely. Even individuals not vaccinated (such as newborns and those with chronic illnesses) are offered some protection because the disease has little opportunity to spread within the community. Also known as herd immunity,” as defined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Vaccinations are designed to build up a bodies defense against different disease that could be deadly or contagious.

A popular claim against vaccinations is that it can make a young child sick once vaccinated. This claim started when a British researcher published a study of 12 children that claimed the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine caused Autism in vaccinated children in 1998. With these claims, the study received a lot of publicity which correlated with the spike in Autism diagnosis that happened around the same time.

These findings were quickly debunked by multiple studies that found no connection between the MMR vaccine and the diagnosis of Autism. But even with with these findings, many people believe that the vaccination lead the diagnosis.   

Vaccines can be dangerous in a small percent of the population because of its’ nature. Vaccinations are an,
“Injection of a killed or weakened infectious organism in order to prevent the disease,” defined by the CDC Vaccine and Immunization Glossary.

When injecting a “killed or weakened” strand of a disease, your body can then develop an immunity, like how a person can only get Chicken Pox once in their life. The body’s white blood cells learn how to defend against the disease and will be able to do so again and again when needed.

According the the CDC,
“about 1% to 5% of children who are vaccinated fail to develop immunity,” and, “a single dose of measles vaccine protects about 95% of children, but after 2 doses, almost 100% are immune.”

Herd immunity is a concept that protects communities from the spreading of deadly outbreaks.

When 1-5 children out of 100 run a risk of not becoming immune through vaccination, community immunity is what can protect the community. If one unvaccinated child contracts a contagious illness out of 100 children, the 99 children who are vaccinated are immune to the illness and the illness will not spread through the community or “herd”, preventing a deadly outbreak.

If people chose to vaccinate themselves or their children, they also protect the unvaccinated people in their community. Making the choice to vaccinate is how break out diseases can be contained to a small population. When people do not vaccinate themselves or their family, they are choosing to put their community at risk of an outbreak.

Taking the initiative to get vaccinated can protect a community from an outbreak and keep the members of the community safe and healthy.

When it comes time to make a choice between getting a shot or not, think about the people that you care about and think about how you can help protect them through immunization and make a good choice.

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