What Does It Mean to Have Herd Immunity?

What Does It Mean to Have Herd Immunity?

Vaccination and boosters limit transmission, infection, hospitalization, and risk of lingering COVID effects (long COVID). As a population, we try to reach the seemingly unattainable “herd” immunity. What does it mean to have head immunity?

Herd Immunity And COVID-19

Herd immunity means that the overall population reduces transmission and infection rates such that for every one person that becomes infected, the virus cannot be transmitted. Sometimes it can be seen as the “R” number. For instance, the “R” number for Omicron is 3-5; it means for every person infected, it can be transmitted between 3-5 additional people. In a few replications, it is everywhere (and what we have seen). So herd immunity would suggest an “R” number less than one. It means that viral transmission would be possibly halted, and eventually, without a new host, a not-yet infected host, the virus would be no more.

What Does It Mean to Have Herd Immunity?

But we can look at herd immunity in two ways. Firstly, the population of herd immunity which represents our role in the community – social disease and social responsibility – large population and large data. Secondly, we can look at herd immunity within our personal circles (micro-herd). Herd immunity is really a hyper-localized phenomenon. For instance, if the level of immunity within your group is high, transmission rates will be low, and vice versa.

Vaccination and Herd Immunity

A Swedish study using national healthcare data was able to tease out the true effects of vaccination, previous infection, and protection.  Amongst families with two people living together, having at least one person immunized reduced the rate of infection by 45%. When the family was composed of more people, the effect was a dose-response. The more the protection, the lower the rate of infection. In fact, when four of five members were vaccinated, the chance of the fifth non-immunized member contracting the disease was an astonishing 97% lower. Now, it may be possible that this exceedingly low transmission rate exists because that “fifth” family member was, indeed, immunized in some way.

Applying this data to our population of pregnant patients and families with young children who haven’t had the opportunity to become vaccinated is great. Because, with vaccination, we can protect those most vulnerable.

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At Fertility Centers of New England, all of our physicians agree that becoming vaccinated prior to conceiving greatly improves the chances of a healthy mother giving birth to a healthy child. All women who are thinking about or attempting to conceive are strongly encouraged to get a COVID-19 vaccination.

If you have more questions about why COVID-19 booster shots are recommended for pregnant people, please contact us for a consultation.