Vaccine Data: Herd Immunity At Risk In Westport

As the nation races backwards toward the mid-20th century — before the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine became standard — the term “herd immunity” is often heard.

The phrase refers to the vaccination rate high enough to protect unvaccinated children. For the MMR vaccine, it’s 95 precent.

According to the state Department of Public Health, there are at least 36 Connecticut schools in which the MMR vaccine rate for kindergartners last year was below 90 percent.

The schools were in 18 towns and cities.

And they included Westport.

Saugatuck Elementary School has a vaccination rate of just 88.6%. Coleytown El (93.8) and Kings Highway (93.9) were higher, but still below the herd immunity threshold.

The department also reported immunization rates for 7th graders. Bedford and Coleytown Middle Schools both met the 95% standard.

(Click here for the full Connecticut Department of Health report. Click here for the news story, first reported in the Connecticut Post. Hat tip: Peter Powell.)

27 responses to “Vaccine Data: Herd Immunity At Risk In Westport

  1. Michael Alpert

    Absolutely absurd and unacceptable. There should be ZERO tolerance on a matter of public safety.

  2. Elise Russi

    Herd immunity is 95 percent or above. Only children with real medical issues (immunocompromised, for example) should remain unvaccinated. To protect these children, and adults in our community who may not have sufficient measles antibodies from vaccines in the late 1950s and early 1960s, parents of unvaccinated children who checked the religious exemptions box should rethink the risks to their own children and others and vaccinate their children. Measles can kill and also can result in brain swelling and damage in those who get very ill but survive. Sad.

    • Joyce Barnhart

      Elise, do you know if those who actually had the illnesses have lifelong immunity? The vaccines weren’t available during many older people’s childhoods and they got the diseases

      • Elise Russi

        Anyone who believes they had measles as I child and wonders whether they really have immunity still should see their GP and ask to have their blood antibody levels. Based on the results, it may make sense to get vaccinated or revaccinated as an adult to boost antibody levels.

  3. Claudia P Shaum

    Agree with both previous post’ers. This is INSANE and we need to be very strict about this in our school system. The proof is in the pudding – disease is spreading rapidly. Anti-vax parents are misinformed and their negligence cannot be allowed to put others at risk. Zero tolerance.

    • Bob Stalling

      Are they putting others at risk if the others were vaccinated, or are they just putting themselves and others like them at risk?

      • They are putting people who can’t be vaccinated for legitimate medical reasons and infants ineligible for any vaccination at risk.

  4. Chip Stephens

    Westport prides itself on being an intelligent and caring community. This community should find a way through proclamation, advertisement or program to encourage (demand) adherence to vaccination of all school age children attending any institution in Westport as an example.
    My background is in Virology and Immunology, and sadly tragically I have watched the sham science of the past years discourage vaccination, seen certain health professionals discourage vaccination, and persons claiming religious or medical basis for not vaccinating.
    Vaccinations do not cause autism, vaccinations do not cause the underlying diseases they protect for, and most religious leaders (including the most conservative orthodox ones, in the hot zones in NY, where the measles have been most prolific) that vaccinations are not under religious law prohibited.
    In fact vaccinations will likely replace antibiotics in the near future as they prevent disease before it occurs eliminating antibiotics that are becoming less reliable and do not even work with virus based disease.
    Westport has banned plastic bags and products, Westport has actively worked against bullying, racism and other bias. It is time to begin an activist approach to protecting the health and lives of the population by pushing vaccination now. Measles is bad, even though many of us lived through the infection back in the day. OTHER diseases that are avoided by vaccination are out there also, most dangerous rubella (german measles) causing birth defects, and by the way, for seniors, shingles and pneumonia in later life.
    JUST DO IT !

    • Dermot Meuchner

      Make it mandatory in all schools with no religious exemption’s allowed. These anti-vaxxers are a menace to humanity. Absolute ignorance

  5. Jodi Honig

    There can’t be a zero tolerance policy when even the CDC recommends NOT vaccinating for various medical reasons. There will always have to be medical exemptions from vaccinations and there are MANY reasons listed for not being vaccinated. This includes immune system issues which all auto immune diseases can fall under. There has been a huge rise in auto immune diseases and we can’t force these children to be vaccinated. Not sure what the answer is….

    • Michael Shafrir

      Jodi, please stop spreading your unsourced pseudo-science. Here is the CDC guidelines on immunosuppresed vaccinations.

      • Jodi Honig

        Pseudo science? I’m only stating a fact! My kids are vaccinated. I was only stating that ppl with autoimmune diseases or a history of them in their family are given medical exemptions from vaccines. How is that pseudo science? I’m not an anti vaxxer

        • Jodi Honig

          And this is also from the CDC’s website:
          Some people should not get MMR vaccine or should wait.

          Has any severe, life-threatening allergies. A person who has ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction after a dose of MMR vaccine, or has a severe allergy to any part of this vaccine, may be advised not to be vaccinated. Ask your health care provider if you want information about vaccine components.
          Is pregnant, or thinks she might be pregnant. Pregnant women should wait to get MMR vaccine until after they are no longer pregnant. Women should avoid getting pregnant for at least 1 month after getting MMR vaccine.
          Has a weakened immune system due to disease (such as cancer or HIV/AIDS) or medical treatments (such as radiation, immunotherapy, steroids, or chemotherapy).
          Has a parent, brother, or sister with a history of immune system problems.
          Has ever had a condition that makes them bruise or bleed easily.
          Has recently had a blood transfusion or received other blood products. You might be advised to postpone MMR vaccination for 3 months or more.
          Has tuberculosis.
          Has gotten any other vaccines in the past 4 weeks. Live vaccines given too close together might not work as well.
          Is not feeling well. A mild illness, such as a cold, is usually not a reason to postpone a vaccination. Someone who is moderately or severely ill should probably wait. Your doctor can advise you.

          If you read through, one of the lines reads, ,”Has a parent, brother or sister with a history of immune system problems.” If you were a parent with a history of autoimmune diseases, you could get a medical exemption from vaccinating your child. I was only stating that you can never have 100% vaccination rates as there will always be people claiming medical exemptions. That’s all.

      • Elizabeth Thibault

        There is no need to attack people here – Jodi is not advocating an anti-vax stance, and is just pointing out the nuance that is missing from the discussion. Even the link you provided points out that there are several vaccines that are not recommended, depending on someone’s illness.
        If there is a medical reason, trust that their medical team, who probably really likes for people to be vaccinated, have vetted this. For example, my niece was battling glioblastoma, and as part of her treatment, she had a bone marrow stem cell transplant. This wiped out her immune system. Obviously this made it impossible to give her any type of vaccinations for quite some time, as her body recovered. It made it that much more important for anyone around her to be immunized – this is the herd immunity we need and that we focus on so greatly, when we talk about the high immunization rates.
        Nothing is black and white, and lets not engage in a circular firing squad.

  6. Kevin McCaul

    Just saw this on Facebook:

    Your dog is vaccinated against rabies but your child isn’t vaccinated against the measles and chicken pox?? 🙂

  7. Stacy Prince

    I am so tired of the “parents who don’t vaccine are assholes” trope.

    When people chose not to vaccinate, they’re doing it for a reason. They may be misinformed, they may be scared, they may lack the funds. Or, most likely, they’re desperate for autonomy in a world that is increasingly regulated, and what could be more basic than having control over one’s own body?

    Effective public health policy depends on education and encouragement, not shaming. Compare the results of Prohibition, which actually drove people to drink, to the government’s anti-smoking campaign of the 70s and 80s.

    We need better public education. And we need to provide reassurance. Why? Because it’s not as simple as the shamers like us to believe.

    Consider what anti-vaxxers read online: Certain vaccine manufacturers cannot, by law, be sued. We have a Vaccine Adverse Effects Reporting System that may not be as robust as it could be (ditto the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program). And, while there is no evidence that vaccines cause, say, autism, vaccines have been pulled for causing death (ref. the rotovirus vaccine); medical experts can’t predict which few of the millions of vaccinated children will actually be harmed by vaccines. Still, parents have to sign a disclaimer that uses the phrase “including death” to the risks.

    We achieved good herd immunity in the last century by showing people that vaccines were safe and effective. We must convince today’s parents — in this case, parents who did not themselves witness the very real dangers these childhood illnesses can pose — that the pros outweight the cons. That experts are as concerned about individual children as they are with “the greater good.” And that the community that benefits from herd immunity is there for them in the very rare event that something goes wrong.

    • Jodi Honig

      Excellent post! I don’t think many people realize that a Vaccine Injury Compensation Program exists! Vaccine manufacturers can’t be sued when vaccine injuries occur (and trust me…they occur!) so the government set up this program so those who are injured or worse can get compensated. That program has paid out over 4 billion dollars so far. They did this because they acknowledge that bad things can happen (although rarely)

  8. Alex Kuhner

    There should be medical exemptions… but 12% of kids here have medical exemptions?! That seems high, but now I can’t find useful stats on it nationwide. How does it change so drastically between schools when there would be no reason for those who don’t get vaccinated to cluster in a specific school district?

    • Jodi Honig

      There will always be doctors who agree to write medical exemptions for parents with concerns even though the kids don’t meet the stringent “rules” for the exemption. It’s like everything else in life. I know someone that had a true vaccine injury with their child so it does make you read more and question more!! You can’t fault parents for questions science/medicine when there is so much information and/or mis-information out there!

      • Alex Kuhner

        You didn’t answer a SINGLE question I asked, you are only replying to defend your indefensible position.

        The science of herd immunity is not in question, and never will be. Herd immunity is being tested as more people avoid their duties as part of society and get others sick, ignoring science and statistics because they don’t understand it.

        If I knew someone who had a “vaccine injury” (what’s that anyway?) I would say, “hum, a sample size of one – I’m sad for that child, but it’s statistically irrelevant to anyone else’s life.” I 100% do fault parents for falling for junk science, thinking they know better, and manipulating the system to get their precious children out of the system that keeps everyone else alive. It’s so incredibly shameful and unethical to put those who truly need medical and religious waivers at risk by lying or abusing their privilege simply because they read something on Goop. They should vote with their feet… and go live in a country that doesn’t require vaccinations – what? that doesn’t sound pleasant? Right, because mass vaccinations make us safe and healthy!!

        • What position? I’m all for vaccinations!!! That’s my position. I’m not defending anyone or anything. Just pointing out the inherent problems with the whole situation. I agree with you completely and said I don’t know what the answers are. And I have no idea why it changes so drastically between schools. Makes no sense to me either. And if you really want to know what a vaccine injury is, you can research it. Definitely not common but they do happen and if it happened to you or someone you were close with, it would force you to do more research. What is so difficult to understand about that?? Everyone here is so quick to jump and judge. I was only pointing out the other parts of the equation! Jeez! Dan…your readers are tough! LOL!

        • Elizabeth Thibault

          Just a quick example of a vaccine injury is intestinal intussusception, which is a rare reaction to the rotovirus vaccine. Happened to my nephew 12 years ago, after his vaccines at 12 months. He had surgery that night to remove part of his bowels, and is now a happy 12 year old. (It can be serious, but my SIL caught it quickly.)

        • And this goes WAY BEYOND Goop! LOL! Anti-vaxxers can go online and read thousands of documents from all sorts of “experts” (doctors and scientists included) and sad stories about kids and reactions to vaccines. It’s actually really, really scary stuff to read. It’s easy to see how people are swayed. This is the problem!! Too many “experts” going against what the CDC recommends. It’s actually sad…wish we could find a way to stop the spread of mis-information. And when you have politicians and activists who ARE anti-vaxxers like RFK Jr. going out and spreading this misinformation, it becomes even more difficult to deal with.

  9. It seems like one very important fact has been put aside in this controversy. The MMR vaccine vaccinates against Measles, Mumps and Rubella. Rubella, also known as German Measles, can be very dangerous for pregnant women who get this disease. It can cause birth defects. Why isn’t there more being said about this aspect?

  10. Miriam Young

    I am less upset by those with medical exemptions who cannot receive immunizations and more upset by the likely misrepresentation of a sincerely held religious belief covering up a “Dr. Sears reading philosophical objection.”

    I would like to know what is the process those with religious objections have to go through to prove they actually have sincerely held religious beliefs against immunizations. We should have the right to know what that process is. Is it a box they check? Do they have to take paperwork to some office somewhere where it is thoroughly reviewed? Who reviews it?

    Just as loud and proud as anti-vaxxers are, Id like to be a loud and proud pro-vaccinator and get some clarity as to our town’s policies around the religious exemptions.