Public Health Myth #4: Herd Immunity
The Myth: Vaccines provide “herd immunity” and are for the greater good of the society.
The Truth: Herd immunity through vaccination does not exist. The theory behind herd immunity is that if a given percentage of individuals (usually between 85-96%) are vaccinated, the community is fully immune from outbreaks and the immunized protect those who cannot be immunized. However, many outbreaks have occurred within populations that have been fully immunized, and some research points to the vaccination program as the instigator of outbreaks.
Supporting statistics for this phenomenon include:
2009: over two dozen cases of pertussis in Hunterdon County, New Jersey; all the children infected had been immunized prior to contracting the illness
1994: measles outbreak in Cincinnati; 80% of the children involved had had at least three doses of the vaccine
1989: 2,720 reported cases of measles nationally; 72.5% (1,972 of them) occurred in those who were vaccinated
1989: measles outbreak in a high school in Illinois; 69 cases, 99.7% occurred in those who were vaccinated
1987: CDC reported 2,440 cases of measles among vaccinated children
1986: measles outbreak in Corpus Christi, TX; 99% occurred in children who had been vaccinated
1986: in Kansas; 1,300 cases of pertussis were reported; 90% occurred in those who were vaccinated
1984, measles outbreak at a high school in Waltham, Massachusetts; 27 cases, 98% had documented proof of vaccination against the measles
1971, a rubella epidemic in Casper, Wyoming; 84% (91 of the 125 cases) occurred in vaccinated children
During the measles outbreaks above, it’s important to note that there were a surprisingly low number of measles cases in the unvaccinated population.
Many studies reveal that clusters of children have gotten measles and whooping cough despite vaccination. For example, according to the Ohio Department of Health, 50% the reported cases of whooping cough in Ohio from 1987 to 1991 were in vaccinated persons. The Journal of Pediatrics published a study in 1989 showing a 55% failure rate in the pertussis vaccine (Walene James, Immunization: The Reality Behind the Myth).
The solution so far to these obvious vaccine failures is to mandate more boosters. So the CDC has added multiple boosters to the schedule as they continue to blame outbreaks on the unvaccinated.
This type of thinking completely contradicts the whole premise behind vaccination. If the vaccine worked as purported, it shouldn’t matter if anyone else was vaccinated. If you were immune, it should not matter if you are around one unvaccinated person, or a million unvaccinated people.
If vaccines don’t provide herd immunity, what does?
True herd immunity can only result from a healthy, fully functioning immune system. Vaccines cannot confer “herd immunity” because vaccines only stimulate one of the two essential parts of the immune system. And the part they do stimulate they do so ineffectively.
The immune system is made up of the two lines of defense: the first is the innate system that relies on “killer cells” and the second is the humoral system which produces antibodies for anything that gets beyond the innate system. When something is virulent enough to produce antibodies from the humoral system after passing through the innate system, the totality of the response produces lifelong immunity from that specific invader.
Vaccines are said to work when they provoke antibodies but since they bypass the innate system of killer cells, the antibody response isn’t as strong as it would have been had the virus passed through the immune system in the proper way. This creates a secondary issue of “original antigenic sin” (OAS).