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Reaching herd immunity against COVID-19

Wondering what it will take to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19? Here’s the answer — and what to do in the meantime.
Credit: Baylor Scott & White Health

(Sponsored Content from Baylor Scott & White Health)

As COVID-19 vaccination continues across the globe, we all look forward to returning to “normal” life. Whether you have received the vaccine or not, you likely have questions about what it will take to bring this pandemic to an end. That’s where the concept of herd immunity, also called community immunity, comes into play.

What is herd immunity?

Herd immunity occurs when enough people become immune to a disease to make its spread unlikely. As a result, the entire community is protected, even those who are not themselves immune. Herd immunity is usually achieved through vaccination, but it can also occur through natural infection. We’ve achieved herd immunity against former deadly diseases like measles, mumps, smallpox and polio.

“Thanks to modern science, these diseases are considered eliminated, meaning there is enough herd immunity to keep them at bay,” said Stephanie Kreiling, RN, BSN, MPH, CIC, director of infection prevention and control for Baylor Scott & White Health. “A virus needs a host, and if all the hosts — or a vast majority of them — are immune to it, the virus can’t break into the herd.”

We also rely on herd immunity every flu season to protect the unvaccinated and high-risk populations against the flu.

Unfortunately, there’s no magic number of how many people need to be vaccinated in order for us to reach herd immunity against COVID-19. However, experts agree that it will most likely take around 70-90 percent of the population immunized before we get there.

“We’re not yet sure what the long-term vaccination plan against COVID-19 will look like, but the most important thing now is that you get vaccinated as soon as possible,” Kreiling said.

What to do in the meantime

 Every person vaccinated gets us one step closer to achieving herd immunity. The most important thing for you to do is get vaccinated at your earliest opportunity — whenever and wherever you can. Click here to view vaccine eligibility and find a vaccination site near you.

Wondering what you can do to stay safe while you or your family wait to get vaccinated? Continue to practice safety measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including:

  • Wear a mask.
  • Physically distance from other people by at least 6 feet and avoid crowds.
  • Wash your hands frequently.

The mask mandate may have lifted in Texas, but wearing a mask around others outside of your household is still an important way to keep yourself and those around you safe, even for those who have received a COVID-19 vaccine. As COVID-19 variants are spreading, let’s each continue to do our part to protect our community and push toward herd immunity.

Discover more ways to stay safe.

RELATED: 5 things to know about the COVID-19 vaccine

(Sponsored Content from Baylor Scott & White Health)