I don’t often post about controversial things, but I had to today because vaccination is one thing that I am very passionate about. As a nurse I am pretty lax about a lot of things, but not with vaccination.
Health care professionals, along with many other people have been saying for a long time that there is a link to vaccine refusal and an increase in measles and pertussis outbreaks. At the same time, those who refuse vaccines tried to refute the claims.
Well, if you haven’t seen it yet, a few days ago Reuters Health shared a groundbreaking new study that shows the link between vaccine refusal and an increase in measles and pertussis outbreaks.
Since 2000 there have been 1,416 cases of measles reported and over half of them occurred in individuals who were not vaccinated. The study also found that out of 10,000 pertussis cases, 24 to 45 percent of individuals were unvaccinated.
You may look at these numbers and wonder what this has to do with anything. You may wonder why it’s not 100% of the individuals were unvaccinated. Well there are several reasons for this.
Let’s start with the numbers. According to the study, 61% of the people who were affected by the measles were unvaccinated. Of those who were unvaccinated, about 71% of them did not list a medical reason for skipping the vaccine. In the pertussis group, 59 to 93 percent of the cases occurred in those who intentionally skipped their vaccinations.
Again, you may be wondering why this isn’t 100%. I mean if someone is vaccinated, how are they still getting sick? There are many answers for this.
First, not everyone can get vaccinated. It doesn’t happen often but there are medical reasons that someone cannot get vaccinate. For example, if they have an autoimmune disease, cancer, they are allergic to the vaccination or something in the vaccination, and other rare cases.
Second, some of the cases may have happened in children too young to get the vaccine or who have only had a partial dose of the vaccine.
Lastly, and most commonly, is that not everyone develops an immunity. This is possibly the most important thing to remember. If you were like me, you didn’t develop an immunity and had to have the MMR vaccine after you had your baby. No one knows why, but not everyone develops and immunity after having the vaccine.
This is where herd immunity comes in. This is why it is suggested that anyone taking care of young infants get a pertussis vaccine. The thought is that if everyone around you is immune to the illness, they won’t catch the illness, therefore reducing your risk of contracting the illness. This is not always the case, but having more people around you that are immune will reduce your chances. The more people who are unvaccinated, the more exposure to the illness.
Another reason that some people who are vaccinated still get sick is that it is thought that over time immunity diminishes. This is why we get booster shots every so often.
We cannot say that all of this is because of vaccine refusal. For example, measles was all but eliminated in the U.S., the only reported cases were those brought in from outside the U.S., but we have seen a dramatic increase in cases over the last several years.
This study is very important though because it shows that there is a link between vaccine refusal and an increase in outbreaks. This study shows that vaccination is not personal choice and it does affect others around. Vaccination is not a ploy for pharmaceutical companies to make money and vaccination does not cause autism. What vaccination does is protect us all from potentially dangerous and deadly diseases.