False Premise of Medical Herd Immunity Drives Vaccination

by Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, DO, AOBNMM, ABIHM

The Origins of Herd Immunity

The first published use of the term ‘herd immunity’ was in 1923 by Topley and Wilson in a paper titled “The spread of bacterial infection: the problem with herd immunity.” In 1930, Dr. AW Hedrich published an observational study using measles data he had collected over 30 years. The author concluded that when 55% or more of children under 15 years of age had experienced natural measles, outbreaks generally stopped because those who were naturally immune interrupted the transmission of the virus. The original concept of “herd immunity” protection” was based on recovery from NATURAL infection.

Note: Natural herd immunity requires only 55% of infected children to contract the infection to provide protection for the community; medical herd immunity requires a vaccination rate of 85% or higher to provide “protection” that wanes over time.

In 1936, Greenwood’s “Textbook of Epidemics and Crowd Disease” was one of the earliest textbooks to discuss the possibility of vaccine-induced herd immunity….and this is where the “fuzziness” around the word IMMUNE and IMMUNITY began.

Greenwood did not clearly distinguish between immunity associated with a natural infection or “immunity” thought to occur by vaccination. Because of this confusion, subsequent authors began to use the phrase  “immune” vs. “non-immune” to actually meant “vaccinated” vs. “non-vaccinated.” 

Two primary schools of thought evolved during the 1950s that attempted to explain why outbreaks stopped. The first theory focused on viral attenuation, the notion that outbreaks ended when the infectious agent “burned itself out.” In other words, the virus lost its strength as it passed through the community and eventually, it could no longer cause illness the next susceptible individual.

The second theory, the one that became the most widely accepted, was that outbreaks stopped when the population changed, meaning when those who had been susceptible became NON-SUSCEPTIBLE — either by recovering from the infection (natural immunity) or from vaccination (medical immunity). This theoretical perspective was advanced throughout the 1960s and 1970s to defend routine vaccination of children, calling vaccination plans ‘necessary for herd immunity.’

What’s important is that both models – and many others – were based on mathematical calculations and projections, not on actual head-counts. If you skim through some of the older papers and textbooks, you will discover extensive equations used in an effort explain why vaccination ended outbreaks.

All of this fuzzy math reminds me of a quote from Mark Twain:

“Figures Don’t Lie, But Liars Do Figure.”

The Susceptibles vs The Immunes 

Over the years, the various theoretical models began to meld into one. When the paper, “Herd immunity: Basic concept and relevance to public health immunization practices” was published by John Fox and his team in 1971, it became the cornerstone of future vaccination campaigns.

Here’s an excerpt:

The purpose of a vaccination program is to reduce the supply of susceptibles [unvaccinated] to such an extent that the probability of spreading an illness is very small…. No matter how large the number of immunes [vaccinated] are in the total population, if some pockets of the community contain a large enough number of susceptibles [unvaccinated], the epidemic potential will remain high.


Achieving medical herd immunity was only possible if “the susceptibles” within a community were tracked down and vaccinated. A small cluster of susceptibles was thought to be enough to start an outbreak, whether others had been vaccinated or not. Therefore, achieving a 100% vaccination rate went from being a guideline to a goal, based on these premises:

”What if everyone was vaccinated? Then everyone would be NON-SUSCEPTIBLE…and perhaps the infection would not occur in the first place? Then, what if pathogens were completely eliminated?”

The 1971 paper built on a concept developed a decade earlier when the idea of eliminating infectious illness seemed to be on the cusp of reality. Called eradicationism, it was an ideology that pathogens should be completely and permanently banished rather than simply controlled at a low level.

Eradicationism became the ambitious goal of the CDC, the WHO, UNICEF, and later, GAVI.  It was fueled by public health enthusiasm and billions of dollars from the Gates Foundation and vaccine manufacturers. Over the decades eradicationism has resulted in a zero-tolerance for even a few cases of measles. Or mumps. Or chickenpox. Or pertussis.

By now, it should now be clear why officials are determined to implement mandatory vaccination for all, and eliminate those pesky exemptions which allow pockets of “susceptibles” to remain.

The intolerance for even a small number of persons who contract measles, or other vaccine-targeted infection, began decades ago. Contrived mathematical models, medical indoctrination, bullying, and threats have combined to convince doctors and parents to blindly accept that vaccination is necessary to protect the herd.

 This information was excerpted from the 8-week Mastering Vaccine Info Boot Camp, the module on herd immunity. Or go to this link to register for our early notification list or text MVI to 555888. The next open enrollment for the course is February 20-24, 2020.

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2 Comments on "False Premise of Medical Herd Immunity Drives Vaccination"

  1. David Cross | 02/01/2019 at 3:35 pm | Reply

    A really excellent and well argued article; thank you. We’re in Oregon and there’s brewing hysteria right now fueled by media articles and gossip touting the pro-vaccination lobby’s belief that vaccination will protect everyone and that the unvaccinated are the real risk. The data do not substantiate that argument though.

    • Thanks so much! Please share this article with all pertinent parties. At the bottom of the article is a PRINT button; you can print then hand out or fax the information too!

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Written by Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, DO. Copyright 2019. All Rights Reserved.