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Feb 11, 2016

Are all anti-vaxxers this dumb?

Isn't there some sort of tenet that if you're going to write something intended to be convincing, you have to actually address the REAL arguments put forth by your opposition?  Ran across this today.

This is not a description of what "herd immunity" means or how it works.  The idea behind "herd immunity" is not that it'll prevent anyone from ever getting the disease.  The point is to prevent the disease from becoming an *epidemic* by spreading rampantly from one person to another.  And this is precisely what the article fails to address.  It is the limitation of vectors for contagion that is important, not whether any given individual will or will not come down with symptoms.

There are exceptions--there's no "herd immunity" to tetanus, for instance, because you get that from dirt.  Short of sterilizing all the dirt on the planet it's highly unlikely that any amount of tetanus vaccination would have any real effect on the vector of this disease.

But Influenza, Measles, Mumps . . . you get those from *other people* (or animals, some of them).  If you never come into contact with someone who has one of these illnesses, you don't get them.  That's what herd immunity is and how it works.  It doesn't make populations "immune" to the disease.  It simply strips away most disease vectors for crowd diseases.  If there is an outbreak, it's not going to sweep the country and kill 20 million people.

Not that I think everyone should just blindly vaccinate.  For instance, the latest CDC recommendations include giving Hepatitis B vaccinations to young children.  Why?  You don't really need a Hep B vaccination unless you're going to be dealing with other peoples' bodily fluids on a regular basis, like a nurse or other medical professional.  Most kids don't need this.  And, yes, reactions do happen.  Vaccines are incredibly safe, but this isn't much comfort if you're that 1 out of 120,000.