Skip to main content

Herd Immunity Explained Telling Why It Is Important

Margaret Minnicks has been an online writer for many years. She researches and shares remedies for using certain products for illnesses.


Naturally, when you hear the word "herd" you think of a large group of animals such as cows, sheep, and elephants that live, feed, or migrate together. A herd is a social group of certain animals of the same species with a collective behavior.

The term usually applies to animals, but this article deals with herd immunity as it relates to COVID-19 which is affecting people all over the world.

Those who have decided not to be vaccinated might change their mind after reading how the vaccination could be extremely beneficial when it comes to herd immunity.

What Is Herd Immunity?

Herd immunity is a way to accomplish one or two things. It can help slow down the spread of the pandemic, or it might help it go away altogether.

With the rising number of cases of COVID-19 around the world, health officials have concluded that the best way to protect the public from the disease is for as many people as possible to be vaccinated. That process is called herd immunity.

Herd immunity might also be called community immunity that happens when a large part of the population is immune to a specific bacteria, virus, or disease. When enough people are resistant to the cause of a disease, the virus or bacteria has nowhere to go.

The good news about herd immunity is that while not every single individual may be immune to the disease, the group as a whole is protected. Because of the fewer high-risk people in the group, the infection rates drop, and the disease fades out.

Another good thing about herd immunity is that people who are vaccinated protect those who are cannot be vaccinated, such as babies and those whose immune systems are too weak to get resistance on their own.

In other words, when an individual gets vaccinated, he is not only helping himself, but he is also helping others within the group and the at-risk population outside the group.

Scroll to Continue

How Is Herd Immunity Achieved?

Herd immunity can be achieved in two different ways.

  1. People can develop resistance naturally when their bodies are exposed to a virus or bacteria. Their bodies make antibodies to fight off the infection. When they recover, their bodies keep those antibodies and will defend against another infection. This is the way the Zika virus outbreak was stopped in Brazil.
  2. Vaccines can also build resistance by making your body think a virus or bacteria has infected it. You really don’t get sick, but your immune system still makes protective antibodies as if you were sick. If the virus tries to invade your body, the vaccine is the weapon that is ready and able to fight it off. Vaccines stopped polio in the United States because many people had the vaccine.

A community reaches herd immunity depends on the average number of people that a single person with the virus can infect if those people aren’t already immune. The higher the number, the more people need to be resistant to reach herd immunity.

Researchers think that one person can infect two to three other people. That means 50-67 percent of the population needs to be resistant before herd immunity begins and the infection rates start to decrease. As of this writing that percentage has not been reached in the United States for herd immunity.

Challenging of Achieving Herd Immunity

First of all, COVID-19 is a new disease, and there is not much-known information about it. This is the first time scientists, researchers, and other medical personnel have been faced with this challenge. There has been no previous immunity to rely on.

Secondly, a potential challenge is that researchers don’t know how strong the immune protection is or how long it will last in people who have already been infected with COVID-19 and have recovered. What is known is that if the coronavirus is like the flu, there can be a few months of protection.

A third challenge is that even though there are now vaccines to protect against COVID-19, it will be months before enough people will receive them in order to help bring the spread under control. According to researchers, it is estimated that 75-80 percent of the population should be vaccinated before herd immunity can be achieved.



What Is Herd Immunity?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Related Articles