The title of this post is an exact cut and paste of a question posted in an on-line forum. Below is my response. I felt it worthwhile to post it in a place far more people visit. I’m just an IT geek and author. My opinion is based on the research I did for current and future books.
The things we vaccinate against are biological entities which evolve in each new host environment. We eradicate a disease via scorched earth. When everyone is vaccinated with a vaccine that actually works, there are no host environments for the biological entity to gain strength and continue evolution.
Some/many vaccines are incubated in raw eggs. You may have seen the news reports about how flu vaccines were in short supply due to the avian flu outbreak decimating chicken farms in the Midwest. Adding insult to injury a growing number of people are allergic to eggs and thus cannot receive any vaccine incubated in them.
Many vaccines are a weakened form of the biological entity itself which can grow stronger in people with compromised immune systems. People with HIV and other diseases which compromise the immune system cannot receive such vaccines.
Some vaccines are a biological entity which effects other species but not humans. You may remember from history class that the smallpox vaccine for humans is an application of the cowpox virus. This vaccine was actually determined by observation. Milk maids did not get smallpox and many of the cattle they milked had cowpox. One dude saw this and took a gamble. According to the story I read long ago, he literally bet his life on it.
40 years ago most people had not heard of Shingles, other than the type put on the house. “Good mothers” took their children over to play with the kids who had chickenpox so they would get the disease over quickly and, in theory, be forever immune to it. Whether it was true or not, most everyone believed most childhood diseases would kill an adult which had never had them. Today we know the down side of this is the virus evolves inside of us. Our immune system doesn’t kill it, but rather beats it into submission. As we get older and have more stress in our lives our immune system gets compromised, however briefly, and the virus strikes back as Shingles.
Today, if you do a Web search for “are shingles contagious” you get responses like this:
Shingles is contagious and can be spread from an affected person to babies, children, or adults who have not had chickenpox. But instead of developing shingles, these people develop chickenpox. Once they have had chickenpox, people cannot catch shingles (or contract the virus) from someone else. Once infected, however, people have the potential to develop shingles later in life.
Shingles is contagious to people who have not previously had chickenpox, as long as there are new blisters forming and old blisters healing. Similar to chickenpox, the time prior to healing or crusting of the blisters is the contagious stage of shingles. Once all of the blisters are crusted over, the virus can no longer be spread and the contagious period is over.
Personally I find this scary. I find scary any virus which seeds a retro version of itself. It is much like a person in Vegas pulling the one armed bandit looking for that winning combination. Shingles/chickenpox isn’t on an ordinary evolutionary path. Even nasty things like Ebola and Zika are on a normal evolutionary path. When they get transmitted to another you get that disease. Yes, those diseases will continue to evolve but they are evolving in a normal manner in each new host. Shingles/chickenpox seeds an improved/evolved retro version of itself restarting its own evolution.
We have both chickenpox and Shingles vaccines. Admittedly I have heard quite a few stories of people getting the vaccine and still getting Shingles. The chickenpox vaccine seems to have a 95% success rate. According to this the Shingles vaccine is only 50% effective which is not a big motivator for people. I suspect the Shingles vaccine has such a lousy effective rate because it restarts its evolution with a new and improved retro version of itself and by the time it becomes its “adult” self it veers well off onto some new evolutionary path looking for the magic combination to win the game.
People who have not been vaccinated provide Shingles with more coins to put in the evolutionary slot machine. It may well develop retro versions of itself which are immune to the vaccine making its adult self even more horrible.
Currently, you see phrases much like “it is possible to die from Shingles, but …” If Shingles is allowed to continue down its chosen evolutionary path it will be worse than Ebola and Zika combined. Zika, barring people who stupidly travel in or out of the Zika zone, is restricted by environment. Ebola strikes rather quickly and has very obvious signs. Well, people are sick enough to actually go see a doctor. Shingles has a 40+ year incubation period. HIV only had a 7 year incubation period and we still don’t have a vaccine for that despite current trials.
When it comes to the personal/religious objection over vaccination it is someone saying the species should die with them.
When it comes to the effective rate objection, that is legitimate. The Shingles vaccine is 50/50 which isn’t cool. Almost sounds like the relied on dumb luck. The chickenpox vaccine, with its 95% success rate is a no-brainer. If you can take it, then take it.