The Good and Bad of Childhood Illnesses

Graham Shepherd muhero at
Tue Mar 17 16:51:16 EST 1998

mark wrote in message <350EE03D.33BD at>...
>Meryl Dorey wrote:
>> I have to reply to this one.  Whether you think that vaccines are good,
>> or indifferent, you have to admit that there is no such thing as a
>> 'vaccine-preventable' disease.
>Waht about SMALLPOX?

And whooping cough, polio, diphtheria, tetanus....I didn't say you could
eliminate a disease-causing organism -BUT-

You can protect large numbers of the population against clinical illness,
even if you don't prevent infection. Vaccination is a way to stimulate
immunity and avoid the risk of the illness; the more successful it is the
greater the relative risk of the vaccination itself. You have to make a
choice. If you decide against vaccination you put yourself at risk of the
disease. If the disease is at a low level, you have little risk of
developing it. The reason your personal risk is low is that other people are
less likely to give you the disease - largely because they are immune,
probably through vaccination.

As long as a certain proportion of the population is immune, a disease will
be contained at a low level - herd immunity, in other words. The more people
gamble on herd immunity protecting them without them contributing to it, the
weaker the herd immunity becomes; the greater the risk of disease and
suddenly everyone's getting vaccinated again. These diseases kill people,
and in one generation that's been forgotten because we had antibiotics. It's
not a safe world out there, and bad things happen.


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