Let's hear it for herd immunity! One of the reasons people are so passionate about making sure everyone is vaccinated is because a high rate of vaccination creates something called herd immunity. This means that by getting their shots, they are contributing to a protective barrier, so to speak, for people who can't be vaccinated. We all benefit from herd immunity in one way or another. We all know someone who can't be vaccinated, whether it's because they're too young, they have a compromised immune system, or because they have an allergy or experienced a rare reaction to a previous vaccine. All of these people benefit from the rest of us being vaccinated, which is it's so important to get your shots and vaccinate your kids!
Vaccines save lives, even if you don't get one (but in the long run, that protection is dependent on people getting them). We're learning a bit more about herd immunity as it applies to one specific vaccine. A new study suggests that women are benefiting from the HPV vaccine, even if they haven't gotten it.
A study published in the journal Pediatrics shows that the prevalence of HPV (human papillomavirus) is dropping among women, even if they haven't gotten the HPV vaccine.
Overall, the rate of vaccination has gone way up with the HPV vaccine, from 0% to 84% between the years 2006 and 2017. Among those vaccinated against the virus, the rate of infection dropped from 35% to about 6.7%, which is an outstanding result.
But researchers also found that the rate of infection among women who haven't been vaccinated also dropped almost 20% in that same time frame. The reason? Herd immunity. When the infection isn't as common (because of vaccines), the risk of getting it goes down. So if you haven't gotten the HPV vaccine and also haven't gotten HPV? You very likely have someone who did get it to thank for that!
This is all very good news, but it's so important to remember that herd immunity shouldn't be counted on on its own. It's definitely something we all benefit from, but in order for it to work, we all need to continue being vaccinated against these easily preventable diseases.