Tag: hiding in the herd

What Makes Your Healthy Unvaccinated Child a Threat?

Folks who intentionally skip or delay their child’s vaccines and try to get away with hiding in the herd always seem to wonder why we consider their kids to be a threat to everyone else.

What happens when she grows up and learns who really kept her out of school?
What happens when she grows up and learns who really kept her out of school?

How can a healthy child be a threat?

What Makes Your Healthy Unvaccinated Child a Threat?

Of course, kids that are truly healthy aren’t a threat, as long as they stay healthy.

What would turn them into a threat to others?

A healthy child who got measles, chicken pox, or other vaccine-preventable disease and exposed others, putting them at risk, including those who are

  • too young to be vaccinated
  • too young to be fully vaccinated
  • unable to be vaccinated because they have a true medical exemption
  • susceptible because their vaccine didn’t work

And which kids, even if they are healthy, are most at risk to get measles, chickenpox, or other vaccine preventable diseases?

That’s right.

Kids who are unvaccinated and unprotected!

If you intentionally choose to not vaccinate your kids, that shouldn’t mean that others have to lose their choice to send their own kids to school without worrying that they will be exposed to a vaccine-preventable disease.

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Who Are the Medically Fragile Children?

As SB 276 becomes law in California, one thing we have been hearing about from some folks is how it will affect medically fragile children.

No one is coming to take the medical exemptions from medically fragile children.
No one is coming to take the medical exemptions from medically fragile children…

Will SB 276 or vaccine laws in other states take away the medical exemptions from medically fragile children?

Of course not!

Who Are the Medically Fragile Children?

The first thing to understand is that when folks like Rob Schneider talk about medically fragile children, they are using the term differently than when medical professionals and most parents do.

“Medically fragile” means having an acute or chronic health problem which requires therapeutic intervention and skilled nursing care during all or part of the day. Medically fragile problems include, but are not limited to, HIV disease, severe lung disease requiring oxygen, severe lung disease requiring ventilator or tracheostomy care, complicated spina bifida, heart disease, malignancy, asthmatic exacerbations, cystic fibrosis exacerbations, neuromuscular disease, encephalopathies, and seizure disorders.

2005 California Health and Safety Code Sections 1760-1761.8 FACILITIES HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE SECTION 1760-1761.8

The medically fragile kids as defined by the California Health and Safety Code, who require skilled nursing care, are not typically the kids who are getting routine medical exemptions.

Sure, some of them might need one. A child with severe HIV disease or a malignancy being treated with chemotherapy would likely get a medical exemption for live vaccines, etc.

A child with an acute encephalopathy or uncontrolled seizures would also qualify for a medical exemption.

And since vaccines aren’t 100% risk free, there might be some kids with a vaccine injury among these medically fragile kids. It is likely not a high number though, as severe reactions to vaccines are very rare.

“CMC {children with medical complexity} are likely increasing in prevalence because of increased survival rates of infants born prematurely, those born with various congenital anomalies, and/or those with chronic conditions, as well as improved treatments for acute illnesses in fields such as intensive care and oncology.”

Cohen et al on Children With Medical Complexity: An Emerging Population for Clinical and Research Initiatives

In most other cases, medically fragile kids wouldn’t need a medical exemption and would greatly benefit from being vaccinated and protected!

They would also greatly benefit if everyone around them was vaccinated and protected, especially if they did have a medical exemption.

Again, no one is coming to take their necessary medical exemptions if they have one though.

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Which Part of the Herd Gets Protected by Community Immunity?

You are a part of the herd.

“I don’t care that you call people a herd. And I don’t care that some people consider themselves to be part of a herd. I am not in a herd. I am not a farm animal.”

Del Bigtree

Of course, we are talking about herd immunity.

Which Part of the Herd Gets Protected by Community Immunity?

What if you aren’t vaccinated and protected?

Del Bigtree is a "free thinking human being," who whether he appreciates it or not, benefits from herd immunity protections.
Del Bigtree is a “free thinking human being,” who whether he appreciates it or not, benefits from herd immunity protections.

Then you are protected by those who are!

“A situation in which a sufficient proportion of a population is immune to an infectious disease (through vaccination and/or prior illness) to make its spread from person to person unlikely. Even individuals not vaccinated (such as newborns and those with chronic illnesses) are offered some protection because the disease has little opportunity to spread within the community.”

CDC Vaccine Glossary of Terms

That’s what herd immunity is all about.

In a community, “the herd” includes those with immunity and those trying/needing to “hide in the herd:”

  • those with natural immunity
  • folks who are vaccinated and protected
  • some people who are too young to be vaccinated or fully vaccinated
  • the people who’s vaccines didn’t work
  • anyone who can’t be vaccinated, because they have a medical contraindication

And it also includes those who are intentionally unvaccinated. The free-riders. Those who could be vaccinated, but simply choose not to, often because they have been scared by things they have heard or read about vaccines.

Baby deer need protection from the adults in the herd, but that doesn't mean that they aren't a part of the herd too.
Baby deer need protection from the adults in the herd, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t a part of the herd too.

This all makes even more sense when you think about it as community immunity, the term that is more commonly used today.

Don’t want to think that you are in the herd?

That’s OK.

The herd still protects you. At least it does if enough folks in the herd are vaccinated and protected.

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Do Unvaccinated Kids Spread More Disease?

Is this really a question?

Unvaccinated kids do spread more disease than those who are vaccinated and protected.

The assertion, by Rita Palma, that the unvaccinated don’t spread disease any more than the vaccinated is simply absurd.

Do Unvaccinated Kids Spread More Disease?

Before we get to the studies, let’s just think about this for a second.

If you are vaccinated and aren’t getting sick, then how would you spread disease?

And if vaccinated folks spread so much disease, then how do we control and eliminate diseases when vaccination rates are high?

So yes, the consensus thinking would be, of course the unvaccinated spread disease more than the vaccinated!

And not surprisingly, the science confirms that idea:

It is clearly the unvaccinated who are at greater risk to get vaccine-preventable diseases.

And it is clearly the unvaccinated who start and keep most outbreaks going.

And when they spread disease, it is often to those who are most at risk, including those who are too young to be vaccinated or fully vaccinated, and those with true medical exemptions, including cancer and immune system problems.

What else is clear?

Misinformation about vaccines is what likely scares parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids. Don’t listen to these folks anymore.

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and are obviously necessary.

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