Can herd immunity exist on The Walking Dead?

Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC
Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC /

With measles outbreaks showing up in alarming numbers across the country, it leads us to wonder how long herd immunity might last on The Walking Dead.

In the world of The Walking Dead civilization has collapsed, and that means that new medicines and vaccines will no longer be developed. Unlike things like aspirin, which could (in time) be manufactured in relatively simple conditions, vaccines require a lot more work and until things are back to normal it’s very likely that it will be several generations before they reappear. How long, then, can herd immunity last?

When it comes to The Walking Dead, there are children who were born after the zombie apocalypse began. That means they haven’t received vaccinations against things like measles and mumps, or even polio, and so they rely upon “herd immunity” to stay healthy.

By definition, herd immunity is what happens when a large number of people are vaccinated. They’re not only protecting themselves but they’re also helping to stop the spread of diseases. That way, when you have people whose immune systems aren’t strong enough to withstand vaccines due to compromised immune systems, those people will be relatively safe as well.

Dr. Michael Brady sums it up like this: “The whole principle is if you give a vaccine to somebody, you protect them from getting infected, but you also prevent them from transmitting the disease to other people.”

In order for herd immunity to work, the majority of people in a community need to be vaccinated. If a substantial (typically 80% or so) portion of the population is vaccinated then the non-vaccinated members will be protected.

Politics aside to focus on zombies, as the number of apocalypse survivors shifts to a majority of people who were born after the outbreak, the thought would be that herd immunity would also decrease. It stands to reason that the only ways that devastating diseases like smallpox or polio could return would be either if someone who survives into the apocalypse gives it to someone who isn’t vaccinated, or if the wrong people find a way into a laboratory and unleash it.

It’s entirely possible that herd immunity wouldn’t matter, and that no one will contract diseases like measles because after a certain point there won’t be anyone left who has been exposed to them. However, there’s a very real threat that a outbreak could occur and containment and treatment would be very tricky.

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Do you think major diseases like polio or smallpox could return during the apocalypse? How long do you think herd immunity can last? Let us know in the comments!