Watch CBS News

Coronavirus Questions: What Is Herd Immunity And How Can We Get There?

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) —  In the coming months, you will start to hear the term "herd immunity," used by journalists, politicians, and medical professionals in relation to the novel coronavirus. They need it, we say, in order to return to normal. So what is herd immunity, and how can we achieve it?

Dr. Olivia Kasirye, Public Health Officer, Sacramento County says having that shield of vaccinated people is herd immunity. "They, in effect, create a shield for the members of the community that are still susceptible," Kasirye said.

Here is a group of healthy people before the spread of a virus. Let's call that virus "X."
If none of them are vaccinated against "X" and just one of them gets sick...
... they can all get sick.
But if the majority of the group is vaccinated against "X" like the faces you see in blue,
and a person outside of the group gets sick and then spreads "X" —
The unvaccinated people inside the group are protected by people with vaccinations.

Governor Gavin Newsom has also spoken about the importance of a vaccine and herd immunity.

"The prospect of mass gatherings is negligible at best until we get to herd immunity and we get to a vaccine," Newsom said during a press conference Wednesday.

We may not be able to achieve one without the other. If we attempt herd immunity before we develop a vaccine, the already high death rate will likely only get worse.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.