As a result of widespread use of vaccines in the United States, many vaccine-preventable diseases of childhood have been reduced by 98% or more, compared to pre-vaccine era levels. Vaccines are either whole killed germs (bacteria or viruses), parts of the surfaces of those germs, live germs that have been weakened so they do not cause serious diseases, or toxins that bacteria produce that have been modified so they no longer are poisons.
The goal of vaccination is to give the immune system practice so that it is ready to recognize and destroy the real germs, if there is exposure, before those germs can cause disease.
The higher the immunity in the population, the less likely a transmitting case will find a susceptible person and the chain of transmission will be broken (i.e., infection will die out), even if the entire population is not immune.
This concept is known as “herd immunity” or “community protection”.
But they indirectly protect those who are not and cannot be vaccinated because they will not be exposed to the infectious germ.
For example, children who have compromised immune systems cannot be vaccinated against measles.
Thus, most vaccine-preventable diseases maintain themselves in nature through a continuous chain of person-to-person transmission.
When a transmitting case comes in contact with an immune person, the chain is broken.
It is more of a libertarian/authoritarian issue rather than a medical issue.
The medical issues are straightforward - vaccines reduce morbidity and mortality.
When persons are intentionally not vaccinated, not only is their health potentially compromised but so is that of persons who cannot be vaccinated and who in fact may be at greater risk of complications from the disease than the general population.
School mandates assure that population immunity for diseases like measles is high enough to prevent outbreaks.
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