also known as community immunity − is simple: Vaccines protect the people who
get them but also anyone those people are near – even those with no immunity –
because the illness can’t spread.
Yet many patients do not grasp this important concept,
says Austin pediatrician Ari Brown, MD.
“It needs to be explained,” she said. “I don’t think
In fact, patients’ failure to understand community
immunity can endanger this important protection, according to a 2016 Pew
Research Center survey. Americans who do not correctly recognize the definition
of the term are less likely to understand the benefits of vaccines, the survey
Thanks to community immunity, many people who
deliberately refuse shots get a free ride on the protection that other people’s
vaccinations provide, Dr. Brown says. But such refusals can create vaccine-free
“hotspots” that in turn lead to disease outbreaks – like the 2019 measles
outbreaks that hit the U.S., including Texas.
Hotspots are a problem in Texas because it is one of 18
states that allows parents to refuse mandatory school vaccinations for reasons
of conscience. (For the latest district-by-district exemption statistics, see
Tex Med. 2020;116(1):46
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January 09, 2020