What is herd immunity?
Herd immunity, often referred as “population immunity” is a phenomenon where a large chunk of the population of a region or an area is immune to a contagious disease. It acts an indirect protection from that particular disease to people are still not immune to it.
Herd immunity basically curbs the spreading of a disease in a particular area because of the fact that a group as a whole is immune which in turn provides a shield to those few people who can contact the infection but are not getting infected.
Normally, the herd immunity seeks to protect the small children or babies. This is because their immune system is weak as compared to teenage children or fully grown adults.
Why herd immunity is important?
The importance of herd immunity lies in its meaning itself. The protection from an infectious disease will be more if large number of people is immune to it. It will not only protect the immune people from that disease but also those people in their community who have a weaker immune system. Herd immunity can eventually lead to eradication of an infectious disease from a particular region or area.
Say, if in an area, there is a population of around 10,000 people and out of those, 90% of the population is already immune to an infectious disease. In this way, if 10 people contact a disease, 9 out of those 10 will not get sick and this is how, the spread of disease will slow down and will eventually curb because there is a high chance that the infected person can also get immunity after he/ she recovers. The higher the level of immunity, the higher the safety.
How herd immunity can be achieved?
There are two main ways to achieve herd immunity that is-
- By the way of natural infection
If a large number of people in a community have contacted the disease and after their recovery have developed sufficient antibodies, the herd immunity can be achieved successfully. However, one cannot deny the fact that a person can get a re-infection even if he/she has antibodies. To overcome this, the people who have recovered should not be negligent after they recover but take all due precautions and stay safe at an individual level, leaving little or no possibility of the disease infecting him/her again.
- By the way of vaccines
Herd immunity can also be achieved if a major chunk of the population of a community is vaccinated against a particular disease. Vaccines help to develop antibodies against a disease by injecting a weaker version of the disease causing virus in the human body which will have little or no side effects and our immune system will make antibodies to eradicate that disease from our body.These antibodies will further protect our body in the future if we come in contact with a stronger version of the disease causing virus. People should not be hesitant to take the protective vaccines and the people who get vaccinated should be cautious and take the due precautions they were taking before getting the vaccine.
Herd immunity & COVID 19
Like any other infectious disease, herd immunity can also be achieved against covid-19. In India, we have successfully eradicated the small pox infection by the way of herd immunity. But, the problem that lies with the covid-19 is that it is a new disease and the new variants come up in every 2-3 months. Though, we have been successful with reducing the rate of infection by a successful vaccination drive and a large percent of the population already been infected and recovered, the eradication of covid-19 doesn’t seem to be easy.
However, it is still not impossible to completely eradicate the disease if we understand the importance of getting vaccinated and don’t get negligent if the number of covid-19 cases decrease. We have to play our part in the best possible way by still wearing masks, maintaining distance, avoiding large social gatherings and getting vaccinated when we get the opportunity.
Frequently asked questions
What is Covid-19?
Corona viruses are a large group of viruses with RNA as a core genetic material .The Corona virus pandemic, also called the COVID-19 pandemic, is an ongoing global pandemic of corona virus disease 2019 which is caused by SARS-CoV-2 that is Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Corona virus 2. The virus was initially discovered in Wuhan, China, in December, 2019. This disease was previously known as the ‘2019 novel coronavirus
What should I do if I feel sick?
If you feel sick, see a doctor right away. Book a Covid test immediately. Isolate yourself from other family and Take all the appropriate measures to prevent the risk of getting others infected as well.
What are the symptoms of Covid-19?
The SARS-COV-2 virus has been proven to have long-term impacts on an individual’s health. If a patient exhibits any of the symptoms of the corona virus, such as cold , Dry cough , fever, exhaustion, shortness of breath, Nasal congestion headaches, Loss of taste or smell ,Nasal congestion and Nausea or vomiting, Chills ,dizziness and so on, the Covid-19 test should be performed in accordance with ICMR guidelines. It is also advisable to perform Covid-19 test in case of a travel history
Why reaching herd immunity through vaccination against COVID-19 might be difficult?
Reaching herd immunity through vaccinations can be difficult due vaccine apprehension. Some people may be unwilling to receive a COVID-19 vaccine due to religious beliefs, concerns about potential hazards, or uncertainty about the benefits.