Thursday, July 12, 2012

to vax or not to vax

The HPV vaccine may be decreasing infection rates among vaccinated and non-vaccinated women alike, thanks to a phenomenon known as herd immunity: The human papillomavirus vaccine provides a benefit to women even if they are not vaccinated, via a phenomenon known as herd immunity, a new study suggests. Among the women in the study, there was a decrease in the percentage who were infected with the four HPV strains included in the vaccine (HPV 6, 11, 16, and 18) in the years after the vaccine was introduced, compared with earlier years. This decrease in HPV prevalence was seen among both vaccinated and unvaccinated women, the researchers said. [MSNBC]

Herd immunity happens when a high percentage of the population is vaccinated. When so many people are immune, the virus can't spread, so even non-vaccinated people are protected. Anti-vaxxers like to frame immunization as a personal or parental choice. Herd immunity explains why they're wrong. A certain percentage of the population can't be vaccinated because of age, ill health, or pregnancy. These vulnerable individuals rely on the rest of us to get our shots to create herd immunity.

When there's an effective vaccination program in place, vaccination becomes a duty of all.

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