ActivismScience

Fight Whooping Cough!

You may have heard that whooping cough’s on the rise again, and that’s bad news for humanity as a whole as one of those diseases we thought we had in lockdown returns with strength. The media have reported on this largely ignoring the encouragement of celebrities to drop herd immunity, and as news comes out that the vaccine’s effectiveness wanes relatively quickly…

It’s time to give everyone a booster in why this news should encourage us to vaccinate more, and not, as some might be quick to conclude, vaccinate less.

Let’s review!

So, if we ignore the fact that Oprah Winfrey and Jenny McCarthy are still going to have a massive influence on the vaccination rates, efforts to raise awareness and encourage vaccination such as Skepchick Elyse’s ‘Hug Me’ campaign are a great way to counter the bollocks flying in from all sides. With anti-vaccination rhetoric a staple of conspiracy culture this is a hard nut to crack, but it’s worth it for the benefits.

Once enough people in the population are vaccinated, herd immunity can prevent the pathogen (in this case, pertussis), from taking a significant foothold, and like we did with smallpox back in the day, eventually a disease can be banhammered from the population to the point of basically extinction.

Now, the less people vaccinate, the harder this is to achieve, and the more vessels the pathogen has to spread through, therefore increasing its chances of spreading to different areas and into different cultures.

And if the effectiveness of a vaccine drops quickly this should only encourage us to vaccinate more people, because those that are vaccinated won’t be protected for as long as we’d like. To make up for this, we could potentially have more people vaccinated at once, giving us a large proportion of the population that is vaccinated at one time and acting as a giant several million-headed cockblock for whooping cough.

As the disease spreads in multiple areas, it’s important to keep the public aware of what they can do to prevent themselves and their children from getting it, especially in areas where vaccination is not mandatory. The effectiveness of a vaccine is not contained just within one jab to one person; it grows through populations and the more of a population is vaccinated, the more an individual is protected, especially those who cannot vaccinate for medical reasons.

It’s an understandable reaction to the news that effectiveness can wane quickly to abandon hope in the vaccine in question, but that would only make things worse. For people who understand little about herd immunity and the way vaccines work this might seem like the reasonable thing to do, but this reaction will not save any lives, least of all the life of the person denying it or the children they are denying it to.

So please, vaccinate and encourage others to do so. Have a nice day.

[image credit: pkidsfiles.wordpress.com]

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Cat Strickson

Cat Strickson

Cat, or Elly, or Eddy, or whatever name they're going by these days, is a British palaeontologist and fantasy author. It's a pretty awesome skill set, but it doesn't pay much right now. They enjoy science, history, vidyagames and all things SFF.

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