What vaccination really is (and isn’t)


Credit: Flickr Commons, lu_lu

If you’re following the raging anti-vaccination movement, you’ve seen your fair share of rants, from both sides. Also raging? A resurgence of measles.

According to officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 129 measles cases from 13 states have been reported in the U.S. in 2014 so far, the highest number for the period since 1996.

California happens to be leading the measles surge – there have been at least 58 measles cases this year, nearly all of which have been imported by unvaccinated travelers.  Most of the California cases were in people who were unvaccinated or had no vaccination documentation.

While the anti-vaccination movement is a minority group  – according to CDC data, vaccination rates are now above the 90 percent range for several routine vaccines –  it is the small unvaccinated group that is now having the largest impact. Why? Because protecting a population from diseases like measles, and outbreaks like the one in California, is dependent on Herd Immunity.

Vaccination and Herd Immunity, simplified

Community Immunity, a.k.a. “Herd immunity,” is when a critical portion of a community is immunized against a contagious disease.

In order for the vaccination to have the desired effect / level of protection, that critical portion needs to receive it.

In doing so, because most members of the community are now protected against that disease, there is little disease transmission. This means that there is minimal opportunity for a full on outbreak.

Additionally, those who are not eligible for certain vaccines—such as infants, pregnant women, or immunocompromised individuals—still get some protection because the spread of contagious disease is contained, with there being fewer unimmunized people who can transmit the disease to them.

According to Dr. Murdoc Khaleghi, the Medical Director at WellnessFX, this applies not only to viruses that depend on our own immunity to fight them off, but also applies to bacterial infections that can be prevented with vaccines. Immunity to bacterial infection can decrease the need for antibiotics and therefore future antibiotic resistance, which again not only protects you, but, like herd immunity, protects others.

We wanted to share more of Dr. Khaleghi’s thoughts on vaccination – what it is and what it isn’t:

What vaccination is

  • The single most effective way to boost your own immunity
  • Supports the health of people around you
  • Saves you from putting others at risk
  • Recommended by all major medical societies
  • Bacterial vaccines decrease need for future antibiotics and the likelihood of antibiotic resistance

What vaccination isn’t

  • Linked to autism: This vaccine-autism worry may be partly responsible for a drop in childhood vaccination rates in many communities. Research looking at all trials has consistently never found a relationship between a vaccination and autism risk.
  • Linked to autoimmune diseases
  • Something to put off until a disease resurges, since doing so can cause the resurge

Diseases like measles and mumps are highly contagious, but completely preventable. Vaccination – what do you think? Tweet us.

The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.