If vaccines work, why does an unvaccinated child pose a risk to a vaccinated one?
This is a legitimate question to ask: if vaccines work in preventing diseases, why do we say that unvaccinated children are a danger to the vaccinated ones? There are many reasons why unvaccinated children pose a risk to vaccinated children. Here I will go over the main ones:
- There are many children that cannot be vaccinated, for various reasons such as an autoimmune disease, allergies, or simply being too young to have received the vaccine. These children have no protection against the disease. If they are exposed to it through an unvaccinated peer, they are at risk of suffering and/or even dying.
- Unvaccinated children are protected by the herd immunity created by the vaccinated children. Herd immunity basically means that if enough people are vaccinated it becomes really hard for the disease to find hosts it can survive in and spread. The more children are unvaccinated the greater the risk that herd immunity will fail. If herd immunity fails, all suffer for the reasons described below.
- Vaccines do not offer 100% immunity towards disease. The efficacy varies; some vaccines offer higher rates of efficacy, some lower. Having received a vaccine doesn’t guarantee that a child will not get sick when exposed to the disease. Vaccines reduce the risk of contracting the disease, if exposed, dramatically, but there will always be a number of children for whom the vaccine will not provide protection. Those children will be at risk, from other unvaccinated children who may contract and spread the disease.
However, the first and foremost children that are being put at risk by the unvaccinated children, are the unvaccinated children themselves. Before they can become a danger to others, they’d have to contract the disease themselves, and that disease could carry with it all kinds of pain and suffering, including in some cases death.