Columbus, OH,
20:19 PM

10TV: "Herd Immunity" - Vaccine facts and myths

Glenn Williams, MD, medical director for OhioHealth Urgent Care, knows how important immunizations are as a dad, doctor and Army reservist. On September 11 – Patriot Day – he talked with 10TV anchor and Commit to Be Fit reporter Jeff Hogan about why he gets vaccinated to serve his county.

As a member of the Army reserves, Dr. Williams has to get many vaccines in order to stay safe and healthy while in places like Kuwait and Japan. These include vaccinations for things like typhoid, encephalitis and even anthrax.

"I take care of soldiers that would come into the support hospital and take care of them, try to get them moved forward or back to duty," Dr. Williams told 10TV.

While a typical civilian would not need vaccinations of that nature, there are still vaccines that are important, such as the HPV vaccine, MMR and the flu shot. He stresses the importance of reducing the myths of flu shots, like the most common myth of getting the flu from the shot itself.

He tells Hogan that the sick feeling you might feel after getting the flu shot is actually your body building a defense against the illness. He describes the vaccination as successful, good and accurate. Dr. Williams said that pertussis and chicken pox are massively reduced because of immunization.

Vaccines and the facts and myths surrounding them – or “Herd Immunity” – was the topic of the final OhioHealth HOOFit walk at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium for the year. Hogan was on-hand to send 102 walkers off with OhioHealth physicians and Columbus Zoo animal experts to learn about various vaccine facts and myths. They included:

Fact: It is important to be vaccinated

  • "Herd Immunity" is when a sufficient percentage of the population is protected/immune to germs/infectious disease. This makes it unlikely for the germs to spread and offers some protection to unvaccinated individuals (newborns and those with chronic medical concerns).

Fact: There have been dramatic declines in vaccine-preventable diseases

  • When properly administered and all doses are received according to the recommended schedule, vaccines are 80-100% effective.
  • CDC statistics demonstrate dramatic declines in vaccine-preventable diseases when compared to the pre-vaccine era. For example:
    • Pertussis has a 92% decrease than in pre vaccine era. Most recent reports estimate 15,737 diagnosed yearly this compares to the 200,752 annual morbidity in pre-vaccine era.

Myth: We’ve gotten rid of most of these diseases, so there’s no need to be vaccinated

  • Some vaccine-preventable diseases (chickenpox) remain common in the US.
  • Other diseases preventable by vaccines are no longer common here because of these vaccines.
  • If we stopped vaccinating, the few cases we see could very quickly multiply.
  • And some diseases uncommon in the US are still common in other countries. You could come in contact with international travelers anywhere. Those who are not vaccinated and are exposed can become sick and spread it.

Myth: Natural Infection is better than immunization.

  • Natural immunity occurs when your child is exposed to a disease and becomes infected.
  • Natural infection does cause better immunity, however, the risks are greater—brain damage, liver failure, cancer, paralysis, loss limbs and death.
  • Side effects from a vaccination are usually minor—soreness, fussiness or low-grade fever. They typically only last a few days and are treatable.

Myth: Vaccines can overwhelm my baby’s immune system

  • Vaccines do not overwhelm the immune system
  • Babies are exposed to immunological challenges immediately at birth. Vaccines only use a portion of a baby’s immune system’s ability to respond.
  • Vaccines today contain few antigens (sugar & proteins). These are parts of germs that cause the body’s immune system to go to work. The antigens in vaccines come from the germs themselves, but the germs are weakened or killed so they cannot cause serious illness.

You can watch highlights of the HOOFit walk in the video player below.