NIAM – Community Immunity

17 Aug

We’re using the month of August (National Immunization Awareness Month) to learn more about immunizations. And this isn’t just about babies anymore. These days, vaccines apply to pretty much all of us.  For example, this year, older kids going into 7-12th grades need a Tdap booster shot before school starts. Vaccinations protect us from getting sick. And they protect the people around us by preventing the spread of disease. This is called herd immunity, or what we like to call it – community immunity.

How community immunity works

Let’s walk through this graphic about community immunity from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

Picture this: an outbreak of measles, a very contagious disease, hits your community. You haven’t gotten vaccinated against measles; that means you’re not immune.

If only a few people are immunized in your community, the population a much higher chance of getting sick (including you!).  However, if a high percentage of your community is vaccinated against measles, then you and your loved ones have a lower chance of getting infected.

A high vaccination rate forms a protective barrier against those that do not have disease immunity (like newborns) or people who cannot be vaccinated (like those allergic to certain vaccines). This barrier helps prevent widespread disease outbreaks. So, if measles happened to hit community #3, the virus would have a hard time spreading to the vulnerable few.

The History of Vaccines website, a project from the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, also has a wonderful animation that helps visualize how community immunity works.  The website has a ton of information about vaccines, including the history of vaccines and how vaccines are made. This blogger also admits to being a fan of playing their online game Illsville: Fight the Disease .

Do We Have a Responsibility?

When numbers of unvaccinated people increases, community immunity decreases— and disease spreads.  We’re seeing  this now in Europe, with high cases of measles throughout the continent. We’ve also experienced it here at home with California’s ongoing whooping cough outbreak.

Community immunity is a gift we can give our communities, our families, and ourselves.  Does community immunity matter to you? We’d love to know!


2 Responses to “NIAM – Community Immunity”

  1. Tammy August 17, 2011 at 10:21 am #

    I’ve had a lot of friends and coworkers have babies recently. I’m always glad to know I’ve had my Tdap shot to be part of that cocoon of community immunity to protect those most proecious newborns.


  1. August is National Immunization Awareness Month « Health and Medical News and Resources - August 22, 2011

    […] NIAM – Community Immunity (iChoose Blog, August 17, 2011)     Great graphics about community immunity(herd community) […]

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