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Vaccine-Induced “Herd Immunity” is a Dying Myth

In response to David Wenner’s article “Vaccination rates lag behind goal of ‘herd immunity’”  (Sunday Patriot-News, August 30, 2015), there needs to be clarification on the term herd immunity.  The theory of herd immunity was a term applied to the general immunity to a pathogen in a population based on the acquired immunity to it by a high proportion of members over time.  It was never intended to describe potential group immunity gained from vaccination.  This distinction is important.   Vaccination is not synonymous with immunization, although the terms are used interchangeably.  Natural immunization from disease is a complex interactive process involving many bodily organs and systems; it cannot be replicated by the artificial stimulation of antibodies.  There is scant evidence to suggest that herd immunity can be applied to vaccines the way the term was meant to be used for contracting a disease.  Why? Because in addition to affecting our immune system in separate pathways, contracting a disease gives permanent lifelong immunity, vaccines do not, hence the booster shot in various vaccines. Research continues to indicate that vaccine acquired herd immunity is a dying myth because many vaccines including measles and pertussis have become ineffective.¹ ² ³ ⁴ ⁵ ⁶  To further muddy the waters, a recent lawsuit⁷  (United States v. Merck and Co.) claims that the drug company Merck “fraudulently misled the government and omitted, concealed, and adulterated material information regarding the efficacy of its mumps vaccine in violation of the FCA [False Claims Act].  Almost right on queue, a well reported mumps outbreak⁸  in the National Hockey League occurred even though all the players involved were vaccinated against the mumps, and some even were vaccinated twice.   Fully vaccinated populations still experience epidemics.  It is also not very scientific to blame measles or pertussis outbreaks on unvaccinated individuals, although it is currently very popular to do so.  Herd immunity is a term that should belong to its original intent of disease contraction and stay out of the vaccination lingo.   It just does not fit.  

 Dr. Michael Bennese, D.C., C.C.S.P

Enola, PA


  1. The Re-Emergence of Measles in Developed Countries: Time to Develop the Next-Generation Measles Vaccines

  2. The genetic basis for interindividual immune response variation to measles vaccine: new understanding and new vaccine approaches 

  3. Low titers of measles antibody in mothers whose infants suffered from measles before eligible age for measles vaccination

  4. Duration of Immunity Against Pertussis After Natural Infection or Vaccination

  5. Pertussis resurgence: waning immunity and pathogen adaptation - two sides of the same coin

  6. Pertussis Booster Vaccines May Not Fight Disease Resurgence 



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