Questionable Motives

December 19, 2009

Immunization rates and measles/mumps outbreaks: are vaccinated populations safe?


And that’s the scary part, because within the vaccinated population 3 to 10% of the population would remain susceptible to the disease even if we had 100% of the population vaccinated. (Ref from Science-Based Medicine)

From a study done on a measles outbreak in Quebec, the Journal of Infectious Diseases discusses the results here:

Despite a population immunity level estimated at 95%, an outbreak of measles responsible for 94 cases occurred in Quebec, Canada. Unlike previous outbreaks in which most unvaccinated children belonged to a single community, this outbreak had cases coming from several unrelated networks of unvaccinated persons dispersed in the population. No epidemiological link was found for about one‐third of laboratory‐confirmed cases. This outbreak demonstrated that minimal changes in the level of aggregation of unvaccinated individuals can lead to sustained transmission in highly vaccinated populations. Mathematical work is needed regarding the level of aggregation of unvaccinated individuals that would jeopardize elimination.

So one point of contention remains that people who choose not to vaccinate their children or themselves are ADDING to the risk of infection within the vaccinated population. This fact makes the choice whether or not to vaccinate as much a civic choice as a personal one. What consideration do you owe to your neighbour and what consideration does your neighbour owe to you?

To err on the side of caution, which I think is the responsible adult choice based on the preponderance of evidence that shows vaccines to be safe and effective, all of us need to get inoculated with MMR.  For those who choose not to join the ranks of the civic-minded and refuse inoculation, should they not also forfeit their civic rights to join publicly funded programs like education and health-care where their choice can have deadly consequences? Should there not be a civic cost to making such adverse civic choice?

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