Let’s talk about herd immunity

You might not think of yourself as a herd animal.  But you are.  You’re a member of your community.  Part of the herd.

You have a social responsibility to protect yourself, which in turn helps to protect other members of your community.  People with compromised immune systems, the elderly and newborn babies too young to be vaccinated benefit from the system known as herd immunity.

Kimba Likes Mindful Living - I want to talk about herd immunity. Why I am pro-vax #kimbalikes #mindfulliving

What is herd immunity?

Herd immunity is a level of protection, for the members of our community who can’t be immunised, that takes place when a significant percentage of the population have been vaccinated.

As the Department of Health says:

An important feature of immunisation is that it brings benefits not only for the individual who receives the vaccine, but also for the entire population through a concept known as herd immunity, sometimes also called community immunity.

If enough people are immunised and protected from a disease, the infection will not be able to spread. This protects the population as a whole from infection. Herd immunity is important for those who cannot receive vaccinations. These include children who are too young to be vaccinated, people with immune system problems and those too ill to receive vaccines.

The proportion of the population which must be immunised in order to achieve herd immunity varies for each disease but can be up to 95% for some highly infectious diseases, such as measles. The underlying principle is the same: once enough people are protected, they help to protect vulnerable members of the community by reducing the spread of disease.

Why I’m anti anti-vax

I’m completely in favour of immunisation.  I believe in science. Any arguments presented by people opposed to vaccination (known as “anti-vaxxers” or, as I like to refer to them, “nutters”) have been completely and utterly debunked.

I’m vehemently against the anti-vax movement.  It makes me furious.  They say that everyone has the right to an opinion.  That’s right.  But there is no right to have  your opinions accepted as fact.

Quite simply, you don’t have the right to an opinion when you’re wrong! There is no debate. There is no other side to the story.   There is no opposing view.  There is scientific fact and then there’s loony town.

Kimba Likes Family Adventures

Our experience

You might have read on my Facebook Page that Boyo was very ill when we were on holiday in Uluru.  We went straight to the doctor when we returned, as he just hadn’t got any better.  This kid almost never gets sick.  When he does, he kicks it quickly.  It’s like his ninja skill. When it comes to matters of health, I err on the side of caution.  I’d rather be called a hypochondriac than hear “I wish you’d come in sooner”.

We had the sinking feeling that it might be whooping cough as a family friend had recently had a diagnosis.  We weren’t convinced though, as he was kinda missing a key symptom – the whoop!

The treatment protocol is 5 days of antibiotics and isolation.  If any family members are in their third trimester of pregnancy, on immuno-suppressant drugs or attend daycare (workers or kids), they are also required to undergo treatment.  Boyo’s least favourite part was the required swab up the nose for testing.

The GP recommended that I have a booster jab.  I’m now also protected against tetanus and diphtheria.  Handy!

I have to be honest.  The jab really knocked me sideways.  Four days later, my arm was still sore at the injection site.  I spent a whole day and night feeling like death warmed up – and badly at that.  I was absolutely freezing.  I just couldn’t get warm. I struggled to keep my eyes open.  I also had a thumping headache, runny nose and the sneezles.  I knew I was sick when I couldn’t even be bothered turning on the laptop.

But I’d do it all again, if I had to.  It’s part of my social contract as a human being.  It was my body doing what it was supposed to do – having an immune reaction.

As Boyo is fully immunised, he only got a mild dose of whooping cough. It didn’t seem very mild when he was running a 40 degree temperature, coughing until he was gasping for breath and vomiting.  I knew he was sick when he slept in and refused food.  I know right?!

Poor old Boyo has had a pretty rotten school holidays. Ask him – he’ll tell you.  “Worst holidays ever”.  He was keen to go back to school for some fun!

His grandparents visited from the UK during the holidays. He hadn’t seen them since he was 6 years old – five years ago.  He has missed out on lots of time with them because of his illness, and once we realised what it is, his quarantine. That’s just not fair.  Especially when you’re a kid.

A week after he got all the all clear and had been happily back at school for the week, I started a cough on Friday afternoon.  Saturday morning, I took myself straight to the doctors.  I got swabbed and elected to take the medication straight away, rather than wait for the results and then take it.  This saved me an extra four or five days of isolation, as I also tested positive to whooping cough.

Kimba Likes Mindful Living - I want to talk about herd immunity. Why I am pro-vax #kimbalikes #mindfulliving

As so many people are testing positive to whooping cough without the typical “whoop”, here’s my advice.  Got a cough? Get a swab.  I really didn’t think I had whooping cough.  I had a temperature, a runny nose and sneezles, and a relatively mild cough.  I got tested because I was following the GP’s instruction after Boyo’s diagnosis.  Any symptoms, any symptoms at all, had to be taken seriously.

Most of us know that immunisation isn’t a guarantee – just a level of protection. But why wouldn’t you protect your children, your family, those who can’t be immunised in your community? Why wouldn’t you do absolutely everything you could?

Kimba Likes // a style blog with a fun family twist! @kimbalikes

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  • Sarah Coats - 26 November 2015 - 3.42 pm

    I find it ridiculous that there are mothers and fathers in third world countries that would literally do anything for their children to be protected by vaccines, and in our first world ignorance we turn our noses up and refuse. We have become far too comfortable as a society and have been shielded from the impacts of these conditions (due to past vaccination success – duh) to really grasp how important it is. First world privilege makes me so angry sometimes.ReplyCancel

  • Norlin Mustapha - 12 November 2015 - 9.21 pm

    I don’t get anti-vaxers either. I just don’t get it. In Singapore I believe it’s compulsory to get immunised, which was why I was shocked to discover that over here in Australia or rather in most western countries, it’s not! As you said, while it doesn’t guarantee protection, it does help. Eg. My kids had the chicken pox immunisation, they still got it but instead of the full 2 weeks the girls only had it for less than a week, my boy? He only had it for a few days. And all three only had a few spots. They wouldn’t have gotten chicken pox had we been told to get booster shots though. So there you go! I even get flu shots each year because I really cannot afford to fall sick like I did a few years ago.ReplyCancel

  • Zoe from A Quirky Bird - 9 November 2015 - 3.03 pm

    Jenny Mac Carthy has a lot to answer for. She’s since rebuked her anti-vax comments, but the damage remains. I’ve nurse kids in ICU and if there is a way to prevent a child or anyone needing to be treated in ICU I’m all for it. Science saves lives. Thanks Kim-Marie for writing this. xxReplyCancel

  • Beth - 9 November 2015 - 1.45 pm

    Totally with you, Kimba. I am all for science and the anti-vax movement enrages me. We shouldn’t still have to worry about measles and whooping cough outbreaks harming our little ones in this day and age.ReplyCancel

  • www.boyeatsworld.com.au - 9 November 2015 - 11.05 am

    I’m in complete agreement. Raffles suffered from a (rare) serum allergy to the MMR injection when he was one which left him hospitalised for three days. He has since = been added to a world wide register and no doctor in Sydney is prepared to give him his booster because the risk of another potentially life-threatening severe reaction is too high. While testing showed us that the first injection was enough to immunise him to mumps and rubella, he’s still at risk of measles. Given his adverse reaction some people think I’m now anti-vax but on the contrary I’ve vaccinated my daughter and myself to the extreme and Raff has had every vaccination he safely can. I rely on herd immunity to protect my son, who cannot be immunised through no fault of his own. These anti-vaxxers need a slap in the head.ReplyCancel

  • Cheryl - 9 November 2015 - 9.48 am

    Top stuff Kimba. My newest grandson had an adverse reaction to his first ‘needle’ and now has to wait until he’s 6 months and is bigger and stronger before receiving any more. He is unprotected at the moment, so needs your kids to be. Simple really. xxReplyCancel

    • Kimba from Kimba Likes - 9 November 2015 - 7.28 pm

      It is so simple. The conspiracy theories, the totally refuted “facts” … what would be the point? Another way to help protect him is for all of his adult family and close friends to be immunised too.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah @She Writes - 9 November 2015 - 9.37 am

    Hear, hear!ReplyCancel

  • merilyn - 9 November 2015 - 9.13 am

    a good and worth while post thankyou kim! … i’m with science and you!
    I know some people who have opted for no immunization …
    not a wise decision for the good of the whole! … we don’t want a return of these fatal diseases!
    especially when most of them have been eradicated! … it’s a responsibility!
    sorry your son was so sick! … hope you are healing well hun! love m:)XReplyCancel

    • Kimba from Kimba Likes - 9 November 2015 - 7.29 pm

      It just made me so concerned when I saw how ill he was and later discovered he had a very mild case. I can’t imagine seeing a tiny baby wracked with coughs. So heartbreaking.ReplyCancel

  • HandbagMafia - 9 November 2015 - 8.03 am

    Glad you shared this- so important to read how awful a “mild” case is. Also important to remind adults to have their boosters!ReplyCancel

    • Kimba from Kimba Likes - 9 November 2015 - 7.30 pm

      Yes! I know of many people who have asked their besties and the baby’s aunts, uncles and grandparents to get immunised too. I had a horrible reaction to my recent immunisation. But I’d do it again.ReplyCancel

      • Nikki Suttor - 26 November 2015 - 8.15 pm

        A friend of mine was pregnant earlier this year, and said that if her friends and family wanted to see the new baby, they had to get a measles booster (there’s a fair bit of that in my area at the moment). I knew I hadn’t had one since primary school, so I went to the GP, had a blood test, and *all* the boosters I needed – including the chicken pox vaccine that I’d somehow missed in childhood.

        Worth it.ReplyCancel

  • Karen Suzanne Styleloving2 - 9 November 2015 - 8.01 am

    I’m so sorry to hear your boy was so ill. I like you are very much pro vaccination and get angry that these illnesses that had all but disappeared are now coming back. My son and his wife with the recent birth of their little girl didn’t take her out for the first 6 weeks because of the fear of whooping cough. How this has changed from when I had my children, I was out n about in the first week.ReplyCancel

    • Kimba from Kimba Likes - 9 November 2015 - 7.32 pm

      Isn’t it terrible that modern times are more dangerous for our littles than when their parents were littles. PS – I can’t believe you’re a granny!ReplyCancel

  • Tia Porter - 8 November 2015 - 8.38 pm

    Well said. It’s called scientific fact for a reason. Whooping cough is a nasty beast. I’m glad my Kid missed it when it made the rounds at his school, and he usually gets everything. I’m sorry to hear you both copped it, though.ReplyCancel

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