We’re finally on part 3 of our Baby Immunization Shots series. The first covered the fact that vaccines do not cause autism. The second covered the Sociological concept of moral scares and how it applies to vaccines. Now we’re going to look at some myths. We will end with the CDCs vaccine schedule.
We’re only going to focus on the most controversial issue here, herd immunity. For a more comprehensive list of vaccine myths, check out here or here. They’re not long reads. I recommend checking them out.
Is Herd Immunity a Myth
One argument in the anti-vaxxer community is that herd immunity is false in regards to vaccines. They say it works with natural immunity, but not with a vaccine, artificially induced immunity.
To break this down, we need to look at how vaccines work and what is herd immunity.
How Vaccines Work
Vaccines are made with parts of a real disease. But the disease is either weak or killed in the vaccine to allow the body to react but not catch the disease. It’s like setting up a rigged fight. The handicap is so great, the body is going to win.
The body gains experience during this fight and learns how to win similar fights in the future. In other words, it creates antibodies to attack similar pathogens that enter the body, aka the real disease.
The result is the body can fight off future contamination by the disease and usually win. Rarely, the disease does win over the antibodies.
What is Herd Immunity
Herd Immunity is the theory that if enough of a population contracts a disease and beats it, the rest of the community will be safe from contracting it due to lack of exposure.
The theory has been applied to vaccine immunity as well as natural immunity. Anti-vaxxers often do not believe that herd immunity is real with vaccine immunity because it is not natural.
What is not natural?
How the body catches the virus is not natural, but the body’s reaction still is. Vaccines inject a harmless dose of the disease to allow the body to make antibodies. When a body contracts a disease, it makes antibodies to provide immunity in the future.
The body has the same response to both scenarios. But vaccines don’t come with the risk of serious illness or death. For those who believe it does, check out the first ‘here’ link at the top of this page, myth #6.
Who Does Herd Immunity Help?
Anyone who is allergic to the ingredients in a vaccine and can’t get them or has an immune system too weak to receive it, like the elderly and young babies.
The Scandinavian Journal referenced below (starts with Kim) talks about the cost benefits of vaccines. The introduction of the quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine in the US saved $551 million in direct costs and $920 million in indirect costs.
The savings come from a lack of people needing to be hospitalized, suffering from permanent injury, or death due to contracting meningococcal. The article goes on to discuss the herd effects of several other common vaccines. Here’s one from another article.
A Case of Successful Herd Immunity
The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal (starts with Mast below) talks about the effectiveness of the RV vaccine and evidence of resulting herd immunity. The RV virus is the leading cause of infant inflammation and irritation of the stomach and intestines.
When the RV vaccine was introduced, there was a substantial decrease in cases of RV. Before the RV vaccine was introduced, the virus caused the US over $1 billion yearly in direct and indirect costs from people contracting it.
Vaccines make a difference in the economics of a country along with overall health.
Keep reading past this section’s sources to learn about the scheduling of vaccines.
Another big item of contention is vaccine schedules. People are under the impression that we give babies too many vaccines at once. So they alter the vaccine schedule to give their child fewer shots at once and prolong the whole schedule.
I was going to go into myself, but the Children’s Hospital of Philadephia covered this subject far better than I ever could. So check out the link. It also has a two and a half video at the end to discuss the topic.
The CDCs schedule can be found right below these words. It’s linked directly to the CDC website. So when they update their site, this link is automatically updated.
When you’re done viewing the schedule (it can take a minute to load), leave a comment with your thoughts.
Sources: all have URLs that can be copied and pasted in your browser
Anon. n.d. “How Vaccines Work.” Vaccine Basics – How Vaccines Work. Retrieved November 8, 2018 (http://www.vaccineinformation.org/how-vaccines-work/).
Caceres, Marco. 2018. “Herd Immunity Theory Has Been Repeatedly Disproven.” The Vaccine Reaction. Retrieved November 8, 2018 (https://thevaccinereaction.org/2017/05/herd-immunity-theory-has-been-repeatedly-disproven/).
Fine, Paul, Ken Eames, and David Heymann. 2011. “‘Herd Immunity’: A Rough Guide.” Clinical Infectious Diseases 52(7):911–16. Retrieved November 8, 2018 (https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/52/7/911/299077).
Kim, Tae Hyong, Jennie Johnstone, and Mark Loeb. 2011. “Vaccine Herd Effect.” Scandinavian Journal of Infectious Diseases 43(9):683–89. Retrieved November 8, 2018 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3171704/)
Mast, Christopher, Florence Wang, Sue Su, and John Seeger. 2015. “Evidence of Herd Immunity and Sustained Impact of Rotavirus Vaccination on the Reduction of Rotavirus-Related Medical Encounters Among Infants from 2006 through 2011 in the United States.” The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal 34(6):615–20. Retrieved November 8, 2018 (https://journals.lww.com/pidj/Fulltext/2015/06000/Evidence_of_Herd_Immunity_and_Sustained_Impact_of.17.aspx).