Abinash Virk, M.D., COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation and Distribution, Mayo Clinic: What we mean by herd immunity is that most of the population, or a large percent of the population, is protected against a certain disease. So that herd immunity you can get from natural infection or you can get from the vaccinations.
How does herd immunity protect us?
Herd immunity protects us because it lowers the amount of virus that's floating around in the community. If there's a lot of virus and there are lots of people who don't have any protection, then more and more people will get infected. But if there are lots of people who have protection, then the virus is less able to transmit in that community. So even the people who are not vaccinated get somewhat protected because the virus is just not as common in that community.
When will we reach herd immunity?
We consider good herd immunity at a level that's going to be helpful to turn this pandemic around is about 70 to 80 percent of population has to be protected. And we're not anywhere close to that yet.
What if I already had COVID-19?
For the people who think that they've had COVID and they don't need the vaccine, for them, I would say that they should get the vaccine, yes, to protect themselves, but more so for your community, for your friends, for your family, for your country. I would encourage every person to go out and seek your COVID-19 vaccine so that we can all get back to our lives again.