It’s the time of year when people start getting their flu shots. Flu vaccinations are important for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the concept of “herd immunity.” Part of that concept is that everything does not always go according to plan. That is, some people will get sick despite being immunized and others will be unable to be immunized at all for various reasons.
It occurred to me this morning that something of the same is true for service providers. We have policies in place to help customers understand what it means to be a good neighbor on the Internet. Those policies act a lot as an immunization does. When things go wrong, being surrounded by people who aren’t hurting things further can only help.
Herd immunity is all about community. To demonstrate that, the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health recently came up with FRED (A Framework for Reconstructing Epidemiological Dynamics) which is a simulation that shows a measles outbreak after the introduction of just one sick person to a community.
FRED’s simulation shows the huge difference in the number infected between 95 percent herd immunity and 80 percent. Watch the graphics below to see how herd immunity could protect a simulated outbreak in Houston.
Now, imagine that the city of Houston here was your service provider. Would you rather be a member of the community that was experiencing waves of problems and recoveries or the one that remains relatively steady, despite one of the community members becoming ill?
So, when you see a provider who publishes a policy (and enforces it), understand that while they do care about every individual case that comes along, they’re also looking at what is good for the rest of their herd. For me, if you find a provider who doesn’t publish a policy, then that should be a red flag that the community might not be quite as healthy as you hope it would be.