What is Community Protection?
Diseases can travel quickly through a community and make a lot of people sick. However, when enough people are vaccinated against a certain disease, the germs can’t travel as easily from person to person, and the entire community is less likely to get the disease. This is known as “community immunity, “herd immunity” or “community protection”
The levels of vaccination rates needed to protect communities from diseases vary based on several factors, including how infectious each diseases is and how well the vaccine works. As a society, it is important to work together to protect one another from deadly diseases. The more people who are vaccinated, the fewer opportunities a disease has to spread. By maintaining high vaccination rates we protect not only ourselves, but also vulnerable infants who are not yet fully vaccinated yet and those with weakened or failing immune systems, including people battling cancers and other diseases.
Vaccinated Yet Vulnerable
While vaccines are very effective at preventing disease, no medication is 100 % effective. Fortunately, most people who get vaccinated do get full protection from disease. However, a very small percentage of people who are vaccinated may not get full immunity from the disease and may still be vulnerable if exposed to disease.
Just as you count on others not to knowingly expose you to dangerous illnesses, they rely on you. We must each do our parts to limit everyone’s exposure, and that means the whole family needs to get vaccinated according to the CDC’s recommended immunization schedules.
Don’t Try Hiding Behind the Herd
Most vaccine-preventable diseases are spread from person to person. If one person in a community gets an infectious disease, he can spread it to others who are not immune. But a person who is immune to a disease because he has been vaccinated can’t get that disease and can’t spread it to others.
People who are not immunized put not only themselves at risk, but also increase the danger for others. Some people mistakenly believe that they do not need to vaccinate their family members because so many other people have had their immunizations. But hundreds of thousands of people don’t have full immunity because they cannot receive certain vaccinations (including HIV patients, young babies who are not yet fully vaccinated, people undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, children on steroids for asthma, and others). Since the bacteria and viruses that cause these diseases still exist, only by working together can we keep diseases at bay.