Opinion

Herd Immunity is NOT the Answer to Everything This Flu Season

Stella Walston

Reporter

If you’ve been on Facebook in the past 20 years (or even just the internet), you’ve heard about the illegitimate link between vaccines and autism. Published in 1998, Andrew Wakefield’s paper on a supposed link between vaccines and autism caused a tsunami effect over the parents of America. Children left and right were running around unvaccinated, causing monumental amounts of formerly obsolete diseases in their wakes. Measles, Gout, Rickets, and Whooping Cough alone have made a comeback since one discredited scientist put out a fateful paper announcing a poorly researched link between vaccination and autism. Nevertheless, you can take your fate into your own hands and make the right decision this flu season- the decision to get vaccinated.

You may be considering an alternative to getting a shot this season- one that is commonly called herd immunity. Otherwise known as community immunity, it’s what soccer moms and unvaccinated people alike love to consider their way out of vaccinating. The logic of herd immunity is that “Most of Billy’s classmates got vaccinated this year, so it won’t matter if I vaccinate him or not. If none of them can get sick, then none of them can get Billy sick!” This wishful thinking is bad at best and catastrophic at worst.

The concept of herd immunity was not designed for those who can get vaccinated and choose not to. In fact, the concept of herd immunity was designed and continues to be intended for those who physically can’t get vaccinated. Using herd immunity as an excuse for not educating yourself on the actual (positive) effects of vaccines is taking advantage of and misusing a system that some people rely on to stay safe in flu seasons. People who are allergic to proteins in some vaccines, people who have weakened immune systems due to HIV/AIDS, or even people who have failing immune systems due to type 1 diabetes or cancer are the intended subjects for herd immunity.

Herd immunity is NOT for anyone and everyone to use as an alternative to simply vaccinating. Walmart and Walgreens both do free vaccines any day of the week, and any of the public health clinics in Humboldt county do as well. Above all, don’t be afraid to do your own research. If you’re not sure why you should get vaccinated, then just google it. Almost nothing is more dangerous than a mix of misinformation and deadly diseases.