Wrapping Up the Year with Our Most Popular Posts
Dec 21, 2011

When I was first approached to contribute to this blog, I wasn’t sure I would have enough material to contribute on a regular basis.  Since then, I’ve recognized that when it comes to immunization issues, there is just so much to discuss.  Now, as I reflect on the past year, I realize that one of the greatest gifts I’ve received has been becoming part of this special community.  
Throughout the past year, we have seen continuous growth among the readers of this blog and the participants on our Vaccinate Your Baby Facebook page.  We continue to attract a caring community of parents, medical professional, health care workers and public health advocates who actively participate in immunization discussions by offering their thoughts, opinions, experiences and expertise.  We hope that we can continue the momentum, and ask that you suggest your family, friends and work colleagues join us for more lively conversations in the new year. 
As we “wrap” up 2011, we will be highlighting our most popular posts of the year.  If you’ve read them before, you can now share them with others and encourage them to join us for more immunization discussions.  If you’ve yet to see these posts, than you may be interested in seeing what issues have captured the attention of our regular participants.   
Today I’ll be highlighting a post that addresses a recurring question I hear from parents; “Why Worry About the Unvaccinated?”  Without the proper understanding of both the benefits and limitations of vaccines, it’s difficult to understand how the unvaccinated population could ever pose a threat to anyone but themselves.  However, this post encourages readers to consider the unintended consequences for all.  

Why Worry About the Unvaccinated?

Time and again, we hear this from parents who choose not to vaccinate their children.
“If your child is vaccinated, why are you worried about them catching anything from my child?”
This is a common response from parents when it is suggested that a purposely unvaccinated child poses a threat to others.
One thing that many parents may not understand is that while vaccinations are highly effective, and greatly decrease the chance of contracting preventable diseases, no vaccine is 100% effective.    According to CDC reports, “most routine childhood vaccines are effective for 85% to 95% of recipients.   For reasons related to the individual, some will not develop immunity.”
This explains why, during an outbreak of a vaccine preventable disease, an unvaccinated child can increase the risk of disease for everyone that may be exposed, even if the people who have been vaccinated vastly outnumber those who have not.  It is not uncommon for a small portion of the vaccinated population to be infected, However, that does not prove that vaccinations are not effective.  To truly understand the risks, you need to know more than just the number of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated who have become infected.  You have to appreciate the percentages that are involved.  For instance, this example offered on the CDC website, explains this concept quite clearly:

“In a high school of 1,000 students, none has ever had measles. All but 5 of the students have had two doses of measles vaccine, and so are fully immunized. The entire student body is exposed to measles, and every susceptible student becomes infected. The 5 unvaccinated students will be infected, of course. But of the 995 who have been vaccinated, we would expect several not to respond to the vaccine. The efficacy rate for two doses of measles vaccine can be higher than 99%. In this class, 7 students do not respond, and they, too, become infected. Therefore 7 of 12, or about 58%, of the cases occur in students who have been fully vaccinated.
As you can see, this doesn’t prove the vaccine didn’t work – only that most of the children in the class had been vaccinated, so those who were vaccinated and did not respond outnumbered those who had not been vaccinated. Looking at it another way, 100% of the children who had not been vaccinated got measles, compared with less than 1% of those who had been vaccinated. Measles vaccine protected most of the class; if nobody in the class had been vaccinated, there would probably have been 1,000 cases of measles.”

When we consider this in relation to what is currently happening in our own communities today, we see why there is reason for the vaccinated to be concerned.  (To continue reading this blog post, click here.)


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