How Health Policy Affects Community Health

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  • 0:00 Health Policy
  • 0:38 School Immunization Laws
  • 4:25 Health Information
  • 5:18 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Do we really need the government telling us what to do when it comes to our health? Why or why not? The answer may surprise you as we'll go over how health policy affect community health in more than one way.

Health Policy

Why does the horrible government have to budge their way into every facet of our lives, telling us to do this or that? Whatever happened to freedom and liberty? This horrible Big Brother is just out to get us. Is this really true though? At least when it comes to health policy as well as individual and community health, the answer is a very simple and flat-out no! We need the government to mandate certain health policies so that you and I and everyone else can stay safe. Let's go over one specific example of how health policy affects community health.

School Immunization Laws

One really good example of the government telling us what to do for everyone's benefit is a subset of public health law, one of school immunizations, or vaccinations. Vaccines are basically a little shot of a harmless version of a bad virus into a recipient's body. The vaccine recipient's body then develops defense systems against this harmless virus so in the future, when the truly bad version of this virus tries to kill the person, the vaccine recipient's immune system will be able to fight off the infection with relative ease. This way, vaccinations have literally prevented tens, if not hundreds, of millions of deaths around the word in just the recent past.

Each state regulates vaccination requirements for kids going to school. You might think that such laws only apply to kids going to public schools, but this isn't so. In many states, these laws extend to private schools so that as many kids as possible get vaccinated against horrific and deadly diseases.

Why? Why does Big Brother tell parents what to do with their kids? The really obvious answer is that a vaccine will help save the life of their child. That should be a good enough reason, no? The other reason is something called herd (or community) immunity, a kind of indirect immunity provided for people who are not immune from a disease; one that arises from a large enough proportion of a population being immune to the disease.

Here's what I mean by this. Take a look at the graphic on your screen (see video). The blue people are not vaccinated against a disease but are still healthy, while the red people are not immunized either, but they're also sick. In such a scenario the infection spreads very quickly to affect just about everyone because no one was vaccinated! It's like a domino effect. Once one domino, or person in this case, comes down with a disease, the one closest to it does so as well because nothing is protecting the next domino from a fall either.

The next graphic shows that some people in the community, the yellow ones, are vaccinated and thus healthy (see video). But unfortunately, not enough of the population is vaccinated to provide herd immunity. Therefore, the disease can still spread around very quickly and easily to unvaccinated members of the community.

The final graphic shows that the vast majority of kids (the yellow guys) are vaccinated against a disease, thankfully so (see video). Note how this time around, because a large enough proportion of the population is vaccinated, the disease cannot spread easily around the population, thereby protecting the people who aren't immunized from getting sick.

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