It is one of the most effective ways to protect our health: herd immunity. By vaccinating the vast majority of people in a population, we can guard against the spread of potentially deadly infections. When we allow this collective immunity to dissipate, the results can be devastating sometimes even for people who have been vaccinated. Just ask my patient J.
J.s ordeal began with a routine dinner at an Italian restaurant in Culver City, Calif., in October. A few days later, his wife called me with the news of a possible measles case at the restaurant the same day. I wasnt worried because J. had attended Los Angeles public schools, which require vaccinations, and a key vaccine such as MMR (measles/mumps/rubella) would not have slipped through the cracks.
A few days later, J.s wife called again. He now had a low-grade fever but no rash. It seemed likely that the measles exposure was a coincidence, but we both were concerned.