The Science of Herd Immunity (and lack thereof)


December 12, 2013 by Dr. Sana Keller

herdCheck out the two vastly different explanations of ‘herd immunity’:

Explanation #1: From When a critical portion of a community is immunized against a contagious disease, most members of the community are protected against that disease because there is little opportunity for an outbreak. Even those who are not eligible for certain vaccines—such as infants, pregnant women, or immunocompromised individuals—get some protection because the spread of contagious disease is contained. This is known as “community immunity.” Basically, herd immunity by this definition is based on the idea that 95% of a population must be vaccinated to prevent an epidemic of a specific disease. herd immunity


Explanation #2: The herd immunity theory was originally coined in 1933 by a researcher AW Hedrich, which he defined as a natural phenomenon. He had been studying measles patterns in the US between 1900-1931, years before any vaccine was ever invented for measles. He noted that epidemics of the illness only occurred when less than 68% of children had developed a natural immunity to it. This was based upon the principle that children build their own immunity after suffering with or being exposed to the disease. So the herd immunity theory was, in fact, about natural disease processes and has nothing to do with vaccination. If 68% of the population were allowed to build their own natural defenses, there would be no raging epidemic. Years later, vaccine proponents adopted the herd immunity phrase (some have actually rebranded it to ‘community immunity’ to remove the reference to livestock) and increased the figure from 68% to 95% (with no scientific justification as to why) and then stated that there had to be 95% vaccine coverage to achieve immunity. They basically manipulated Hedrich’s study to promote their vaccination programs. (AW Hedrich, American Journal of Epidemiology, May 1933. Oxford University Press).

It is clear that the concept of herd immunity has been stretched into a larger definition beyond what it really means. It was never intended to be applied to the vaccination scenario. Why the difference in interpretations?? Which definition stands to benefit the pharmaceutical companies making the vaccines?? Hopefully the information provided above answers those questions. If not, the realization that the vaccine industry is a huge moneymaker for pharmaceuticals should help.

The reason I am addressing this ‘issue’ is just that…it has become an issue of many conversations (some of them quite heated) and will most likely continue to do so. I urge you to learn what you can so that you can make decisions affecting your health and the health of your family based on scientific facts instead of propaganda and media hype—or, worse , unwarranted pressure from health care providers. herdillusion2

Here are some options for those of you who choose to avoid getting caught up in the vaccination craziness—It’s as simple and basic as Living A Healthy Lifestyle:healthy life

  • Take action now instead of waiting until you get coughed on, sneezed on, or hear that ‘the flu is going around’
  • Maintain your Vitamin D levels in the optimal range annually (checked with a simple blood test).
  • Get a good night’s sleep on a nightly basis–No skimping!
  • Exercise (aerobic) at least 5 times/week (shoot for 30 minutes).
  • Focus on making the majority of what you eat fresh vegetables and fruit, minimizing processed foods. Include garlic in your diet on a daily basis.
  • Stay hydrated with filtered water (at least ½ your body weight in ounces).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. Avoid touching your face, mouth, nose, eyes which can transfer germs.
  • Keep positive self-talk running in your head: “I’m being proactive and keeping myself healthy” as opposed to “Wow, sounds like everyone is getting the flu… I’ll probably get it next.”

healthy lifestyle

Wishing you health and joy…         Sana Keller, MS, RN, CNC, MH, HHP


Photo credits:,,,,

3 thoughts on “The Science of Herd Immunity (and lack thereof)

  1. Melissa Fettig says:

    We have vaccines that prevent cancer. Do you educate your clients about vaccines and their life saving benefits? OR Do you try to scare your clients into declining cancer preventing and life saving vaccines, e.g. influenza, HPV or MMR vaccine?


    • Sana Keller says:

      Dear Melissa:
      Yes, I educate my clients about how to regain and maintain optimal health. No, I do not scare my clients or make decisions about their health for them. My role is to provide integrative health education and evidence-based health information to my clients so that they can make the best decision for themselves. If a client asks about pros and cons of a specific vaccine, I provide that information and education. My clients can then make a decision based on solid information instead of relying only on government-funded or pharmaceutical company-funded studies.
      We, as health care providers, are not to dictate our client’s/patient’s health care regimen, rather our goal should be to work with them as a team (of which they are the most important player) to assist them in making the best decision for them at that time. An excerpt from this blog posting underlines this goal: I urge you to learn what you can so that you can make decisions affecting your health and the health of your family based on scientific facts instead of propaganda and media hype—or, worse , unwarranted pressure from health care providers. That’s also why I included the 8 options for living a healthy lifestyle at the end of this posting.
      Below are just a few examples that point to the need for questioning rationales behind mass vaccinations.
      **A systematic review of pre- and post-licensure trials of the HPV vaccine by a Canadian team (Current Pharmaceutical Design 2012 Sep 24) shows that its effectiveness is not only overstated (through the use of selective reporting) but also completely unproven. The summary states it quite clearly:
      “We carried out a systematic review of HPV vaccine pre- and post-licensure trials to assess the evidence of their effectiveness and safety. We find that HPV vaccine clinical trials design, and data interpretation of both efficacy and safety outcomes, were largely inadequate.
      Additionally, we note evidence of selective reporting of results from clinical trials (i.e., exclusion of vaccine efficacy figures related to study subgroups in which efficacy might be lower or even negative from peer-reviewed publications).
      Given this, the widespread optimism regarding HPV vaccines long-term benefits appears to rest on a number of unproven assumptions (or such which are at odds with factual evidence) and significant misinterpretation of available data.
      For example, the claim that HPV vaccination will result in approximately 70% reduction of cervical cancers is made despite the fact that the clinical trials data have not demonstrated to date that the vaccines have actually prevented a single case of cervical cancer (let alone cervical cancer death), nor that the current overly optimistic surrogate marker-based extrapolations are justified.
      We thus conclude that further reduction of cervical cancers might be best achieved by optimizing cervical screening (which carries no such risks) and targeting other factors of the disease rather than by the reliance on vaccines with questionable efficacy and safety profiles.”
      In addition, as of mid-2012, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) has received 119 reports of death following HPV vaccination, as well as:
      894 reports of disability
      517 life-threatening adverse events
      9,889 emergency room visits
      2,781 hospitalizations
      Ever since Gardasil vaccine was licensed in 2006, reports of serious adverse events have included autoimmune and neurological disorders sometimes involving clinical symptoms similar to cerebral vasculitis, an often-fatal condition in which blood vessels in the spinal cord and brain become acutely and chronically inflamed. (
      **In the medical journal Vaccine, Dr. Gregory Poland, the journal’s editor-in-chief, professor of medicine and founder/leader of Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group, recently made the following statements about the poor effectiveness of measles vaccine in the MMR shot.
      Quoting Dr. Poland: “…the immune response to measles vaccine varies substantially in actual field use. Multiple studies demonstrate that 2–10% of those immunized with two doses of measles vaccine fail to develop protective antibody levels, and that immunity can wane over time and result in infection (so-called secondary vaccine failure) when the individual is exposed to measles. For example, during the 1989–1991 U.S. measles outbreaks 20–40% of the individuals affected had been previously immunized with one to two doses of vaccine. In an October 2011 outbreak in Canada, over 50% of the 98 individuals had received two doses of measles vaccine… this phenomenon continues to play a role in measles outbreaks. Thus, measles outbreaks also occur even among highly vaccinated populations because of primary and secondary vaccine failure, which results in gradually larger pools of susceptible persons and outbreaks once measles is introduced. This leads to a paradoxical situation whereby measles in highly immunized societies occurs primarily among those previously immunized.” (Vaccine. 30 (2012) 103–104)
      **Unlike the natural diseases, the MMR vaccine does not confer permanent immunity, meaning that measles epidemics can and do occur in vaccinated populations (Epidemiol. Infect. (2000), 124, 263-271). According to the CDC, measles transmission has been clearly documented among vaccinated persons. In some large outbreaks…over 95% of cases had a history of vaccination. The Journal of the America Medical Association published data showing that antibody levels after rubella vaccinations fell to half their high point within four years. The medical literature contains many examples of MMR vaccine failures. Thus, people who receive MMR may still be susceptible to the three diseases.
      Thank you for your questions, Melissa. As Registered Nurses, we’re on the same side…working with clients to achieve and maintain their best possible health.
      Sana Keller, MS, RN, CNC, MH, HHP


  2. Wendy Lydall says:

    It is sad that Hedrich gets blamed for coining the term “herd immunity” when he never ever used the term, and in fact his published research shows that there is no such thing as herd immunity.


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