What Exactly Is Herd Immunity? How Can a Community Achieve It?


Herd immunity is a buzz word that is becoming quite popular these days. Thanks to the COVID-19 and the discussions that are happening all around the globe to contain it. Herd immunity and vaccines are interrelated. 


Many people do not understand what herd immunity is and how a community can achieve this status. This article will help in expounding this concept so that you know what herd immunity is.


Herd Immunity - The Concept

There are so many terms that people are using to denote herd immunity. Population immunity, community immunity, community protection, and indirect protection are some of the other names of herd immunity. By vaccinating most people in a community, one can protect not only those that are immunized but also those that did not get vaccinated. 


Herd Immunity and Vaccines

As stated above, herd immunity and vaccines are interrelated. When a person receives a vaccine, his body will create antibodies, which are nothing but proteins that help fight disease by boosting the immune system. Our bodies will work in the same manner when we get infected by an infection.


But People do not get exposed to the disease or fall sick when they receive a vaccine. When many people in a community are vaccinated, other people contracting the disease reduces drastically. The number of people that need to be vaccinated to get herd immunity differs depending on the infectious disease a community is fighting. 


For example, 95% of people in a community need to have antibodies to reach herd immunity to protect the remaining 5% against measles. That means the remaining 5% of people will not contract the disease even though they do not get vaccinated. When it comes to fighting polio, around 80% of the population in a community needs to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. 


Vaccines help in protecting not only those who take it but also those who do not. The chances of one spreading the disease will reduce when you get immunized. Vaccines that are effective and efficient will help in eradicating the diseases and in saving lives. 


Ways to Achieve Herd Immunity

There are two ways through which a community can reach herd immunity. One — expose most of the population to the disease and hope to develop the immune response to protect others from getting infected. 


But, this is going to be catastrophic, especially if people are susceptible to the disease. When it comes to Coronavirus, many people can die when they get exposed to this disease. On top of it, we are yet to discover the long-term effects of COVID-19. The problem with Coronavirus is that it can affect not just the older generation. 


It is the reason why WHO is recommending governments to use lockdowns as a method to contain this disease instead of exposing people to the disease. Communities that follow this approach will slow down the transmission of disease. 

Hopefully, we will soon find a vaccine that can eradicate the deadly disease that has paused the world.