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Herd Immunity

(289 Posts)
Tabitha8 Sun 09-Sep-12 16:42:12

A simple title for what I think is probably a complex subject.

If we have herd immunity to an illness as a result of vaccinating our children, how is that maintained given that we don't vaccinate ourselves, the grandparents, our neighbours, etc?

bumbleymummy Mon 10-Sep-12 22:35:37

At the moment we still have a significant proportion of the adult population who are naturally immune to things like mumps and measles. I wonder what will happen as the vaccinated with their waning immunity start to make up a larger proportion of the adult population.

bumbleymummy Mon 10-Sep-12 22:37:29

Ali, it's completely unrealistic to think you can 'cocoon' a baby by vaccinating an entire population with a vaccine that only provides limited protection.

bumbleymummy Mon 10-Sep-12 22:37:46

Also* not Ali

ElaineBenes Mon 10-Sep-12 22:40:44

I'm sure if it becomes an issue, it'll be possible to introduce a booster. But I haven't heard of measles outbreaks in vaccinated adults

ElaineBenes Mon 10-Sep-12 22:41:33

No, you vaccinate those the baby will have close contact with. Not perfect but - again - lowers the risk significantly and better than doing nothing and allowing babies to die of pertussis.

AnitaBlake Mon 10-Sep-12 22:42:07

Tabitha, you are right, the main group in danger is very young babies, there have been nine babies died of whooping cough this year in this country. Waning immunity plays a part, choosing not to vaccinate a further part.

I'm not entirely sure how diseases are eradicated but vaccination drives them out somehow, given the massive widespread global lack of diseases like polio and smallpox, it certainly seems to work.

bumbleymummy Mon 10-Sep-12 22:47:31

Considering the high rate of vaccination for pertussis I think we can say that waning immunity plays a much bigger part Anita.

bumbleymummy Mon 10-Sep-12 22:49:20

So vaccinate all siblings (again), parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins (again) etc. The vaccine companies must love you EB.

ElaineBenes Mon 10-Sep-12 22:50:08

Not vaccinating is the greatest risk to any one individual child.

seeker Mon 10-Sep-12 22:52:27

Anyway. Back to polio. It was a constant terror to my mother and her friends when I was a child. Unheard of in this country now. And vaccination was introduced in the 1960s.

Or iw that just a coincidence?

BigBoobiedBertha Tue 11-Sep-12 01:14:53

I didn't think polio was administered by a jab Tabitha - it is administered by drops which is perhaps why you don't think it is still being given. It is. In the old days on a sugar cube. I would say that most people have had the vaccination. I even had a booster as an adult although I can't now remember when, perhaps signing on with a new doc in my early 20's perhaps. I know I wasn't expecting it. Same time as the tetanus booster. My DC have had it too.

BigBoobiedBertha Tue 11-Sep-12 01:21:28

Anyway, polio has nearly been irradicated by a global vaccination programme which I suspect (I haven't checked) very few other diseases have had the benefit of. It is a very serious disease compared to something like mumps or rubella though. I think the focus was entirely justified.

ElaineBenes Tue 11-Sep-12 01:32:48

Funnily enough one of the reasons polio hasn't been eradicated in west Africa is the misinformation and anti-vax campaign in northern Nigeria. Anecdotal claims of vaccine damage, conspiracy theories, media focus - sounds frighteningly similar to the mmr scandal in the uk!

sashh Tue 11-Sep-12 02:21:57


If you were moving to Africa would you have your children vaccinated?

And most adults had live polio vacine in the form of drops although it can be given by a jab.

seeker Tue 11-Sep-12 06:53:24

I was using "vaccination" to include the orally administered polio vaccine. "immunisation" might have been a beet word.

LeBFG Tue 11-Sep-12 12:42:17

Stop painting a one-sided view bm. Naturally-aquired whooping cough immunity wears off too. A study gives it from as little as 4 years. But you know that - I've reminded you on other threads. And I have to second Elaine's point - so what if a vaccine is imperfect? That is no good argument to not vaccinate (but then we've been there too ad nauseam). There is a tiring slog of one-sided posts from you on this board, always arguing the counter-point. With what motivation?

Game theory has indeed been brought up before. It is used to model behaviour based on perceived risk, not actual risk. So, Tabitha, you may feel like you have done your research and reached an independant conclusion, but in fact every bm you bump into convinces you of a risk that may either not exist or is over-hyped. Your choice isn't independant of others (so little of what we choose is tbh). And the more people in RL or on here that do the same as you just confirms your choice. If you don't like this idea, you might be happy to know this would also work in reverse. In a situation where the DM and it's ilk went crazy over a sustained period about the terrible consequences of contracting, let's say, hand, foot and mouth, vaccinations (if they existed) would sky rocket as people would be over-estimating the risk of contracting this relatively innocuous disease.

Tabitha8 Tue 11-Sep-12 22:14:47

Goodness, where to begin.
BBB Yes, I know a polio jab is still given to children. As part of a 5 in 1 or similar.
Elaine by mass vaccinating against mumps, are we not pushing up the average age when people contract it? Because the MMR mumps part wears off the soonest? That's why we've seen outbreaks of mumps in universities, isn't it?
Seeker I know many, many people born before the introduction of the polio vaccination. They may have had polio as children. My parents only remember having measles and scarlet fever. I've only met one person who suffered permanent damage as a result of catching polio as a child.
Elaine You said it's easy to get vaccination data. Yes, so? I do not know the vaccination status of the children that my child plays with. We don't discuss it. I don't know the mothers well enough. Friends of mine with chidren have either vaccinated fully their children (they live too far away for that to matter to me) or their children have long since grown up.
Elaine you ask me why I think the WHO has been able to declare Europe polio free. I don't know. You want the vaccine to take the credit. Fair enough if you do. If I were to quote from the "crankosphere" you'd jump on me, so I won't.
BBB You describe polio as being very serious, yet I've only met one person who suffered permanent damage from it, out of all the pensioners I know and have met in the past.
Sassh If I were moving to Africa? Goodness knows. It would depend on to where in Africa. If to a part with raging poverty, unclean water, and the consequent poor health.......... How about holiday vaccinations? That's a more realistic scenario. I'd have to get back to you.

Tabitha8 Tue 11-Sep-12 22:17:51

LeBFG I assure you that no one convinced me not to vaccinate my child. I'm not completely convinced about my decision myself, and have been quite open about that before. I see the whole area as a risk whatever decision that I make.

Now, will probably have to post and run as usual smile.

Goodnight all.

seeker Tue 11-Sep-12 22:49:02

Before polio was eradicated in this country, this was how it worked. Some people got it. Some of those died. Some were paralysed and some recovered. The ones who recovered then had natural immunity. Of the rest of the population, some never came into contact with it, and the rest did, but acquired natural immunity by having the disease so mildly that it as probably not diagnosed. The pensioners you meet today fall into the natural/acquired immunity or never came into contact groups.

Just because you don't personally know anyone who has suffered long term effects does not mean that it wasn't- and isn't in some countries- a serious illness. Ask anyone who had children before 1962 about it. Oh, and about diptheria too.

LeBFG Wed 12-Sep-12 06:44:15

I'm also pretty sure that not one person convinced yo, or persuaded you, or influenced your was a catalogue of encounters, things read on website, relations or friends with stories etc the sum of which influenced you to make the descisions you did. As I said, this is true of lots of what we decide, including deciding whether it's leggings or flares that look cool this winter.

seeker Wed 12-Sep-12 08:43:54

And one of the things that will have tipped you in the non vaccination direction is the undeniable fact that the scary illnesses that terrified my parents (who were the same age as most mumsnetters grandparents) are just not around any more. If you had actually seen a child with diphtheria, or polio or tuberculosis or a really bad case of measles, or even had, as I had a first hand account of one of those, you might well have been tipped in a different direction.

LeBFG Wed 12-Sep-12 08:55:18

Seeker, when these debates come up, I'm always reminded of people who live in flood plains or overshadowed by a live volcano. They repopulate these areas the world over, quickly forgetting in a few decades the dangers of living so close to such dangers. Then, boom, one day the disaster happens. In some respects we are a forgetful species.

seeker Wed 12-Sep-12 09:17:34

Maybe part of ante natal care should be a tour of a pre vaccination cemetery? All those heartbreaking lists of names........

BigBoobiedBertha Wed 12-Sep-12 09:40:56

Do we not have to forget sometimes? The world would be a very scary and unhappy place if we lived in the shadow of all these fears, wouldn't it? I've vaccinated my children to the usual childhood illnesses because they are so awful but now they are not a direct threat to me, I don't have to remember how bad they were - even though I am not daft enough to be uneducated about it on the very rare occasions that I am forced to think about them.

I suppose that herd immunity comes from us all sticking together and doing the same thing (vaccinating mostly) so that we don't have to think about the risks. We just do it because the rest of the herd does it. For herd immunity to work that is the best thing.

Tabitha - serious illness to me means something that is serious whilst you are suffering it or which takes a long time to recover from, it doesn't nessarily mean that it will do permanent damage even though it can in a fair proportion of cases. To me chickenpox is no big deal for the majority of people but it can have serious consequences in some. Polio is always a serious illness when you have it and it is much more likely to leave permanent damage. Not all illnesses are equal. The fact that you might not suffer permanent damage is only part of it. The other thing to ask is if you would want to catch the disease in the first place.

And you know don't you, that just because you do or don't personally know somebody who has suffered, doesn't really make a very good statistical sample. I don't think I know anybody personally who has suffered polio. Doesn't mean that I don't think there is no point vaccinating against it. In fact it is because I don't know anybody who has suffered that I know the vaccine is a good idea - clearly it works! Some vaccines are not quite so effective but that one is so why not have it?

MordionAgenos Wed 12-Sep-12 11:13:42

@seeker Polio vaccination was introduced in the 1950s. My DH contracted polio the week before he was due to be vaccinated (at age 3 or 4) in 1957, in the last big London epidemic. He was very lucky to emerge relatively unscathed.

My mum had diptheria as a small child. I've never forgotten her telling me and my sister how she would never forget hearing the doctor declaring her dead (obviously she wasn't dead, he was just overworked and probably on the point of collapse himself coping with a diptheria outbreak in a scuzzy bit of inner London)

And DS missed practically the whole of last term at school due to whooping cough (and he has had ALL his vaccinations, like all my kids).

We are BIG believers in vaccinations in my family.

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