Herd immunity also protects your elderly parents, aunts and uncles. While we are all at risk of influenza, once over the age of 65, they will have a less robust immune system4, which puts them at an increased risk of influenza that can cause severe complications such as pneumonia, a heart attack, or stroke5.
A decline in vaccination rates can open the door for the return of certain diseases that had almost been wiped out. Even though measles vaccination resulted in an 80% drop in deaths between 2000 and 2017 globally, there were still 110,000 measles deaths in 2017, mostly among children under the age of five6.
When herd immunity breaks down, however, it threatens everyone.
Recently an unvaccinated five-year-old boy visiting Costa Rica from France developed measles during his holiday. The country, which has been measles free since 2014, now faces a potential measles outbreak7.
Unless people continue to protect themselves, diseases like this can re-emerge, which reinforces the message that a vaccination for you is also one for your family, your neighbor’s family and those who live half way across the world.