Published on October 12, 2021

How Herd Immunity Protects Everyone

A person receiving a vaccine by a nurse.

When you get vaccinated, you’re not just protecting yourself from a disease. You’re protecting your loved ones, friends and others in your community.

That’s because of something called herd immunity or community immunity. It works like this:

  • A germ enters a community. If no one or just a few people have been vaccinated, it can spread fast. Everyone’s at risk. And an outbreak can occur.
  • If most people have been vaccinated, the germ can’t spread as easily. Fewer people are at risk. And if someone does get sick, there’s less chance of an outbreak.

A different kind of herd immunity can also occur if most of the community has already had the illness.

We Protect Each Other

Herd immunity through vaccines benefits everyone. But it’s especially vital for babies and very young children who haven’t had all their shots yet. It also protects people who can’t get certain shots for health reasons. This might include people with:

  • Cancer
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Serious allergies

It Takes All of Us

Herd immunity only works when most people get shots against a disease. If not enough people do, then the whole community is at risk. Staying current with your shots keeps you and everyone around you safer.

A Reliable Record

Vaccines are very safe. They are thoroughly tested before they come to market. Every new vaccine has to go through three separate and increasingly large trials before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) OKs it for public use.

Even after a vaccine is approved, the FDA watches it for side effects as long as it continues to be used. So you can trust that you’re doing the best thing for yourself, your family and your community.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services