Protecting Your Family From Flu By Protecting Your Community
Dec 20, 2018

Dr. Walter Orenstein

The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases’ President Walter A. Orenstein wrote this insightful blog about the importance of protecting yourself against influenza through a community immunity approach. Dr. Orenstein is a long-time member of the Vaccinate Your Family Board of Directors, Associate Director of the Emory Vaccine Center and Professor of Medicine, Pediatrics, and Global Health at Emory University.

Most vaccine-preventable diseases are spread from person-to-person, meaning that the germ maintains itself in the population by an infected individual coming into contact with a susceptible individual and transmitting the infection. Community Immunity TransmissionAfter an incubation period, the newly infected individual then becomes capable of transmitting the germ to other susceptible members of the population. This process of spreading infection is known as a “chain of transmission.” If a transmitting case only comes in contact with immune individuals, the chain is broken, putting an end to the outbreak in the community.

Fortunately, those who are infected with germs (e.g., viruses, bacteria) do not have the ability to infect infinite numbers of people. Community Immunity That’s because individuals generally have a limited time during which they are contagious before their own immune system clears the germ and they become non-contagious. Further, different germs require different doses of pathogen to be transmitted in order to successfully infect another individual, and those that require higher doses may also require more prolonged contact to transmit infection. Additionally, some germs spread more easily than others. For example, a germ which is spread through respiratory secretions such as  coughing may be more contagious     than a germ which is spread from fecal excretion or vomiting.  Read More

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