Herd Immunity

One of the stranger terms you have heard flung around is the importance of “Herd Immunity’ but what does that mean?

What is Herd immunity?

 Herd Immunity is when enough people become immune to a disease that it lowers the chance of the disease spreading as effectively since less people are able to spread it. This concept becomes super important when we start talking about immune compromised people. People who are immunocompromised (weakened immune system defense) have trouble building up a good immune system to be safe from diseases, and will be more at risk when deadly diseases spread. So it’s our job to be safe for them and lower a disease’s ability to spread.

How many people need to be immunized?

For this to work a certain percent of the population will need to be immune for herd immunity to work. Past major diseases like measles have needed a 95% immune rate, while Polio required around 80%. 

“Ok, let’s just let everyone get covid and build up everyone’s resistances.”

Scientists do not currently know the percent required for covid to achieve herd immunity. It is unsure how strong or lasting the immune response to getting covid is, and scientists do not recommend getting the covid virus to attempt to build your immunity as you stand a larger chance to spread it to someone who is in greater danger of dying or suffering long term. The best chance to develop herd immunity right now is to get vaccinated as soon as possible, stay hygienic, wear a mask, and stay away from large groups of people.

Doesn’t the vaccine give you the virus? Isn’t that the same as getting the virus?

Not quite, the quick answer is that most vaccines out right now give you a weakened version of the vaccine that is harmless to your body, it lets your body beat it down and learn from it so it can take tougher versions. Sometimes vaccines just give your body pieces of the vaccine to learn from. But never the whole thing, or any version that might be dangerous to you. See “How Vaccines Work” for more information.

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