Doctor at their desk talking to a patient about herd immunity.

Herd immunity and what it could mean for the community

When you get vaccinated, you’re making a smart decision to protect yourself from serious disease and illness. Additionally,  you’re helping keep those around you safe. The concept of herd immunity centers around the idea that the more people who are vaccinated, the better. 

What is herd immunity?

Herd immunity is a term used to describe the concept — and benefit — of having a large number of people in a community vaccinated against a certain disease, to prevent the spread of that disease. It is especially important for the most vulnerable. Germs can travel quickly within a community, leading to an outbreak if enough people get sick. But when a lot of people are vaccinated against a particular disease — and gain immunity to it— the disease does not spread widely. As a result, everyone in the community is less likely to catch the disease.

Herd immunity even helps protect people who cannot be vaccinated themselves — like very young babies, those with serious allergies, or people with weakened immune systems. If the people around vulnerable individuals are vaccinated, germs can’t easily spread through the community. 

Herd immunity acts as a powerful community protection — for you and the people around you. That’s why if you’re able to get vaccinated, you should — to protect yourself and others from serious disease. And, as always, if you have any questions about vaccinations or herd immunity, you should speak with your healthcare provider. 

  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “Flu shot: Your best bet for avoiding influenza.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, September 19 2017. Retrieved December 15 2017.
  • “Vaccines protect your community.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, December 2017. Retrieved December 15 2017.
  • “Vaccine Safety: The Facts.” healthy American Academy of Pediatrics, October 10 2018. Retrieved March 18 2020.

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