Friday, January 30, 2015

Who's to blame for the measles and whooping cough outbreaks? You are!

OK, apparently this isn't obvious enough for most people to understand it on their own. So let's see if I can break it down into simple enough ideas.

1) There aren't nearly enough unvaccinated kids in America for their parents decision to have weakened our herd immunity. 
2) Most of the adult population of America is unvaccinated.
3) Herd immunity is only a theory, anyway. It's not proven, and it's not the only theory with strong scientific support.

Still needs explaining?

First, a theory is an idea - not a fact. Herd immunity is a popular theory. That means a lot of people think that's probably how things work. Popular opinion is not the same as truth. Personally, I think herd immunity makes a lot of sense. That does not make it true. I also think theories about the effect of modern sanitation on illness make a lot of sense. Until we prove one or more theories, we can't be entirely certain which, if any, are actually how things work.

Let's just assume that the herd immunity theory is accurate. You probably already assumed that anyway. Estimates vary, but somewhere between 80 percent and 90 percent of the population needs to be vaccinated for herd immunity to be established. 

According to the CDC, less than 10 percent of children are not fully vaccinated. The number that are completely unvaccinated is estimated to be less than one percent of the childhood population. The CDC offers a wide variety of charts, tables, articles, and data for you to read about this subject, on their website.

According to the CDC, over 99% of the adult population is not fully vaccinated. The vaccinations adults are most likely to use are influenza, and shingles. The vaccinations adults are least likely to use are the ones that cover whooping cough, and measles. 

Still not clear? 99 percent of adults are not vaccinated for the illnesses we are having outbreaks of. Less than ten percent of children are not vaccinated for the illness as we are having outbreaks of. It is not the fault of the non vaccinating parents. It is the fault of every adult who has failed to get vaccinated for whooping cough in the last three years, or measles in the last 7 years. Statistically, that probably means you.

Even if 100 percent of children were fully vaccinated, it would be not be enough to make any difference at all in our herd immunity. Until our adult population takes responsibility for their part in our community health it's simply doesn't matter how many children are vaccinated.

In case you are one of the very few who would like to be fully vaccinated and contribute to our communities herd immunity, this is what it takes;

- MMR every 3-5 years (that's how long the rubella portion lasts)
- dTap every 3 years (thats how long it offers any protection against whooping cough)
- HepB every 10 years
- Varicella (chicken pox) every 5 years
- HepA every 15 years
- Meningococcal (meningitis) every 5 years
- Pneunococcal (pneumonia) every 5 years

You'll notice the CDC's schedule isn't even aggressive enough to support herd immunity. It would have us spend 7 out of every 10 years completely unprotected against whooping cough, for example. As a society, we are simply setting ourselves up for a continual rise in outbreaks of vaccine preventable illnesses... And all this fuss over unvaccinated children is one of the biggest obstacles between us and a solution.

To sum up;

These outbreaks are the fault of two groups.
1) Unvaccinated adults
2) People blaming unvaccinated children