Herd Immunity

It will soon be flu season and time for the annual shot. The more of us that go this route the better for all of us.

Herd immunity is a well established and understood component of vaccination programs.

The decrease in the number of disease carriers is vital to the prevention of bacterial infections. Vaccines are never 100% effective. Some people are genetically unable to respond to the vaccine, some have immunodeficiencies that preclude receiving vaccines or developing a response to the vaccine, some haven’t gotten around to vaccination or are too young to receive a vaccine.  If you vaccinate a large number of people, besides preventing disease in an individual, it helps protect the vulnerable in a population. Vaccines prevent disease propagation.

A simple graphic can also be used to demonstrate the concept.

Despite our casual approach to influenza, it is not a trivial disease. According to Health Canada, between 2,000 and 8,000 people a year die directly from influenza or complications caused by the disease. Victims are mostly among the elderly, the very young, of those with certain chronic diseases.

A 2010 study  in the Journal of the American Medical Association demonstrated the positive effect of herd immunity in isolated Hutterite colonies in western Canada, even though low risk groups were the focus of the vaccination program.

The same logic applies for all other vaccines, so, if you see this graphic:

explain why they are endangering not only their children, but the rest of us as well.

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