Vaccine Debate: Herd Immunity Fallacy

Momversation.com currently has a discussion about vaccinations.   Here is the original video and my response.

I agree that there is no evidence currently that vaccinations cause autsim. I also wouldn’t vaccinate my child for any reason.
Autism seems to always been seen as the reason parents don’t vaccinate and I can tell you that, for me, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. The multitude of other reactions (Guillain-Barré, SIDS, Juvenile Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis, anaphylactic shock, death, etc.) had a much larger impact on me. Also, I’m not inherently distrustful of the medical industry (I conceived through IVF so I LOVE modern medicine!) but when they are pushing a HepB vaccine on a 12 hour old infant their motives become suspect.
It is frustrating to me that the vaccine debate swirls around Autism, MMR, and Jenny McCarthy. It is like this is a *new* problem! Have we forgotten Barbara Loe Fisher and her fight to get DTP off the market? It was killing kids and causing developmental disabilities in others and they’ve since changed it (to DTaP, the “a” being acelular). For some reason the media loves the Autism link – perhaps because it is so pervasive and not understood disorder? Regardless, it is the least of the problems with vaccines – so please research beyond Autism when you are exploring vaccines.
I also wanted to point out a major flaw in the panelists discussion of non-vaxers. There is this persistent idea that vaccinating is a societal obligation and moral imperative. This theory stems from the thought that non-vaccinated children are relying on the “herd” to protect them from illness. Also, since some people can’t get vaccines for medical reasons that non-vaccinated children are posing a threat to them. There are several major flaws with this idea. the largest of which is children are only a minority of the human “herd” – what about the adult population that harbor NO IMMUNITY to illnesses because they have waned from vaccines and were never developed naturally through illness. Even the CDC shows grave numbers for adult vaccination.http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/14/vaccinations-for-grown-ups/

“only 2.1 percent of adults ages 18 to 64 are immunized against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough, the journal reports. A vaccine against shingles is recommended for all adults over 60, but only 1.9 percent of adults have been immunized.”

How can the non-vaccinated children be responsible for the lack of eradication of these vaccine available diseases? If herd immunity requires 70-90% immunity levels, how can we pretend to have herd immunity?
Second, if you believe that vaccine’s work, why are you worried about your vaccinated child? This doesn’t apply to those too young to be vaccinated and those who can not – however I’ve heard parents of vaccinated kids blame the non-vaccinated kids. Why aren’t they upset at the medical community because their vaccine didn’t work?
Lastly, read up on what vaccines actually do. Many don’t prevent transmission of an disease but decrease the severity of the illness. Whooping Cough, for example, does not stop transmission. That means your vaccinated child can have the pathogen and pass it to others but may not have any symptoms or very light symptoms. If a baby or immuno-compromised person gets Pertussis how do we know it is a non-vaccinated person’s fault? Once again, why aren’t we railing at the medical community that these vaccines aren’t living up to their *miracle status*?

I respect anyone’s decision to vaccinate or not vaccinate. Trust me, thinking that my child would be the one that got HepB from some freak accident and died kept me up late at night! It isn’t an easy decision but let’s protect everyone’s right to make an informed decision.

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8 thoughts on “Vaccine Debate: Herd Immunity Fallacy

  1. I had an actual living public health person (epidemiologist) from a *State* Dept of Health inform me that people could “skip vaccinating kids if they also kept them out of school and other public places”. This ridiculous fallacy implies that anti-vaccine people also eschew sensible public health measures such as hand-washing or food safety inspections. The argument is akin to “if you won’t buy a lottery ticket, you can’t come into the food store”. I pointed out to him not only all the things you mentioned above in this excellent post, but also that – given the link between allergies and intelligence – did he want to lower the mean IQ of his sacred “herd” by neurologically impairing what may be a highly intelligent segment of the population? Those who may in future win Nobels for research that would improve public health?

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  2. you’re an idiot. tetanus is not contagious (communicable) and therefore doesn’t fall under category of vaccinations that would confer herd immunity so that renders your argument invalid. you get vaccinated against tetanus to prevent from uhhh getting tetanus? tetanus occurs almost exclusively in individuals who aren’t vaccinated against it or are inadequately immunized and so it’s totally preventable. the figure 2.1% that you cited—probably such a low figure given that tetanus vaccination requires a booster every 10 years for one to be considered immunized. not immunizing your child is truly a selfish act and you are doing your child and our community a disservice. try to educate yourself a bit more hun.

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  3. We know there is herd immunity because the disease rates among *unvaccinated* children is much lower than it was before vaccines were introduced. The only thing that *could* cause that is a reduction of the pathogen circulating in the population. Reduction doesn’t mean elimination. And school age children encounter a large number of children in close quarters; there’s certainly a risk of infection from adolescents and adults, but it’s not as high.

    “I’ve heard parents of vaccinated kids blame the non-vaccinated kids. “

    So because some parents misplace their blame, that means there’s no herd immunity and children shouldn’t be vaccinated? You talk about “major flaws” (without actually demonstrating any — you simply ask questions and *assume* they can’t be answered), but what about the huge whopping flaws in your own reasoning?

    “Why aren’t they upset at the medical community because their vaccine didn’t work?”

    They shouldn’t blame the medical community either; vaccines are not 100% effective and the medical community is constantly seeking to improve outcomes but they aren’t miracle workers.

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  4. Hmmm, why Anonymous? I don’t get it. However, Anonymous #2, your post is well thought out and not rude, thank you.

    To your first paragraph: It is debatable that disease rates decreased because of vaccination. This is well covered online and I mention it briefly with regard to Polio here: http://www.babydustdiaries.com/2008/12/vaccinations-polio-paralyzes-kids.html

    To your second paragraph: I never said that no herd immunity was a reason not to vaccinate. I don’t vaccinated for a multitude of other reasons that I’ve detailed on this blog. My argument about herd immunity was to counter those that say my choice of health care for my child is somehow irresponsible to society. Second, I do point out two major flaws, adult vaccination rate and vaccine efficacy. Did you have a comment or question about these? What exactly is the flaw in my reasoning?

    Lastly, I agree that the medical community isn’t a miracle worker. I know that vaccines are not 100% effective and I don’t expect 100% effectiveness. I just wonder why some parents believe that the lack of efficacy is the fault of the unvaccinated and not the vaccines? Clearly my unvaccinated kid is not the REASON that the vaccine isn’t working.

    Thank you for the respectful discussion.

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  5. The current vaccine/autism research has been like this obese lady.

    She eats pies, cakes, cookies, ice cream, and candies. She give us eating peanut-butter fudge. Then she moans and groans. She has proven over and over and over again every time that she gives up one food that sweets do not cause obesity. She gave up the fudge for a year and didn’t lose an ounce!

    Dr. Andrew Moulden has done the research that connects vaccines and autism. You can watch his videos on youtube or his website brainguardmd. All vaccines cause ministrokes.

    Also many autistic children have severe food allergies which is also caused by vaccinations! There is a new book out “The History of the Peanut Allergy Epidemic” by Heather Fraser. She found some interesting facts:

    The WHO and FDA decided that refined peanut oil is GRAS and does not have to be listed on the package insert of pharmaceuticals. If you want to know if peanut oil is an ingredient in a vaccine, you are not entitled to know because it is a protected trade secret.

    Peanut allergy is epidemic among our vaccinated children. 1 in 125 have a SEVERE peanut allergy which means they could die if they smell peanuts.

    I want full disclosure of all ingredients on all pharmaceutical products… how about you?

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  6. Pingback: The Vaccine Debate and Dateline « Everyday Adventures with a Homeschooling Mom

  7. Argue all you want rail and castigate- but here are the facts. My child and shots- caused neurological damage. There are other things besides autism that occur. In my child’s case seizures! There can occur guilllan barre syndrome, diabetes, neurological damage, and others including liver damage. I do not and will not vaccinate.

    If the vaccine works really well then why the herd mentality? Since I don’t live in a herd and am not an animal, I’d like to retain my right to say, “NO!” After you’ve had your child rushed to the hospital for not breathing- it kinda sets your teeth on edge to hear self-righteous people saying that they can’t understand why you wouldn’t vaccinate. Chew on the other issues with shots, not just the autism.

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