I dunno whether this guy is a troll or not, but he asked a question I would love to answer, as it is very, very relevant to things Ive written on this blog before:
Finally, if your children have been vaccinated against xyz disease, why would you care if others are NOT vaccinated, surely your children are immune to the effects the disease may pose?
Joe might be a troll, but this is a fantastic question that perfectly illustrates how scientifically illiterate and self centered anti-vaxers are*.
One of the many things Ive tried to emphasize about your immune system is, the fundamental randomness of it. Lets say you and I are infected with the exact same number and kind of bacteria via the exact same paper-cut at the exact same time. When you look at The Big Picture, our immune response will be the same. Damaged epithelial cells will release cytokines, immune cells will converge at the site of damage, we will make antibodies to the invading bacteria to ‘mark’ them for destruction, meh. Pretty much the same thing.
But when you zoom in, our immune response is wildly different! The antibodies my body makes to ‘mark’ the bacteria could bear absolutely no resemblance to the antibodies your body makes. Maybe Ive been infected with that kind of bacteria before, and my body is ‘stuck’ making kinda crappy antibodies– antigenic sin. Maybe Ive been infected with that kind of bacteria before, and my body can make super-duper-awesome antibodies, and I dont even have to put Neosporin on my paper-cut.
The way our bodies have evolved to make antibodies relies entirely on, what I call, picoevolution– random mutation and natural selection of immune cells. Random mutation. My response to a vaccine or a virus or a fungus or bacteria could be just fine, but look absolutely nothing like yours, which could also be just fine.
Each one of our bodies independently comes up with a ‘right’ solution to every cold, every flu, every infected paper-cut we have ever had.
Many roads lead to Rome.
Which is why even if we identify a million Super-Awesome-Anti-HIV-Antibodies, that wont do us a hell of a lot of good in vaccine design, outside of gene therapy.
What this means is, you can do everything right. You can get all of your immunizations, you can get all the the right immunizations for your kids… and you still might not be protected very well against what you think you are protected against. Just by chance alone. If you give everyone in a city the influenza vaccine, there are some percentage of people who, by chance, are going to have a crappy response to the vaccine, and not be as protected as other people. But the herd immunity provided by everyone else still keeps those people safe.
Its not just people who cannot get vaccinated, the young and old and immunocompromised, who are protected by herd immunity.
All of us are (unless you are measuring your anti-measles, anti-mumps, anti-influenza, anti-etcetcetc antibodies every year and getting boosters accordingly).
This is one of the many reasons why anti-vaxers are self-centered little shits, and why everyone should be worried about them.
* Not knowing the answer to this question does not make you scientifically illiterate. Its thinking you know the answer to this question, calling yourself ‘self-educated’ and insisting ‘that youve done all the research’ when this is very basic immunology an undergrad should be able to answer, and actually endangering others lives with your arrogant ignorance– that is what makes this question scientifically retarded. If we were dealing with Creationists instead of antivaxers, this sort of question posed as a ‘challenge’ would be one of The Arguments Regarding Design.