As the US has been tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, we are constantly looking out for ways to protect ourselves and others from the disease. Experts and news reporters have been talking a lot about reaching herd immunity, but what is it exactly?
Herd immunity is when a majority of the population is immune to a particular disease and, therefore, provides protection to those who have not yet developed immunity. Essentially, if 80% of the population is immune to the disease, 4 out of 5 people who interact with someone who is infected will not get sick. If they do not get sick, they cannot spread the disease to others and can keep it contained. About 50%-90% of the population needs to be immune before the number of cases will decline. The goal is to have as many people as possible be immune to the disease to provide protection.
How to reach herd immunity?
There are only two ways in which you can reach herd immunity. The first is natural resistance that occurs when people get sick. Once it passes, they have built up an immunity that will help them avoid contracting the sickness again. The unfortunate part of this method is that it can result in widespread illness and death. The second method is through vaccination, which essentially occurs by injecting you with what the body thinks to be a virus, but that does not get you sick – like a weakened virus or information that helps your body replicate the virus – and your body starts producing antibodies that will fight off the real virus in the future.
The greatest challenge we are facing with COVID is that it is a new virus. That means that everyone will probably contract it at some point because there is no prior immunity to build on. Another challenge to reaching herd immunity would be that we are not completely sure how long the immunity will last. If it was to be compared to the flu vaccine, we would have at least a few months of security, but there is no guarantee.
With all the vaccination initiatives taking place, there is great hope that we will eventually reach herd immunity. To get the most effective results, we would want to continue masks and social distancing along with vaccinations. It keeps the ratio of those getting sick to those getting vaccinated pretty low, which is how we will reach protection. There are always going to be groups or areas where not everyone is vaccinated and that could lead to surges in virus cases, but as long as there are more people that are immune then we should be well on our way to herd immunity.
We hope this information on herd immunity is helpful to you.
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Kayla is a graduate of Texas A&M University and joined the marketing team at Empower Brokerage in early 2021. She creates content for the company websites and assists with various marketing campaigns. LinkedIn Profile