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"Herd Immunity" is a Valuable Side-Effect of Routine Vaccinations Posted: March 17th, 2010

A new study, funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, found that vaccinating the majority of individuals in a community also offers a level of protection for those who are not vaccinated. The concept is called herd immunity.

What is Herd Immunity?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, herd immunity occurs when a large percentage of the population is vaccinated against a disease, thus preventing them from contracting it and then passing it on to those who are not vaccinated. Because the illness has a lower chance of spreading among the general community, even those who are not vaccinated are able to reap the benefits.

The NIAID study followed 46 Canadian Hutterite religious colonies that had limited contact with surrounding populations. A total of 947 children participated in the study. 502 children in 22 colonies were vaccinated against the seasonal flu, while 445 children in the other colonies were vaccinated against hepatitis A.

Six months later, 119 of the over 2,326 unvaccinated community members had developed seasonal influenza. Of those 119 cases, 80 of 1,055 came from colonies that were vaccinated against hepatitis A, while only 39 of 1,271 came from colonies where the influenza vaccine was administered.

The final results indicated that influenza vaccinations were 61 percent effective at indirectly preventing illness in unvaccinated individuals.

Health Insurance Quotes Include Vaccination Coverage

Most health insurance plans cover routine vaccinations, and some even cover the typical immunization schedule without charging co-pays. If you are unsure whether vaccinations are included in a certain insurance plan, mention your concern when you get a health insurance quote.

Shannon Dauphin