Answering Common Questions About Herd Immunity and Vaccination
Table of Contents:
Glossary of Additional Terms
- Active immunity: Immunity as a result of the body’s antibody creation after exposure to disease-causing pathogens, either through natural infection or vaccination.
- Herd immunity threshold: Also called the “critical vaccination level,” this is the approximate percentage of a population that needs to be vaccinated in order to reach herd immunity status.
- Immunity: Resistance to a particular pathogen, or disease-causing bacteria, through antibodies.
- Inactivated vaccine: A vaccine using a killed form of the disease-causing germ. This vaccine usually requires multiple doses over time to form immunity. Examples include the DPT and Hepatitis A vaccines and the flu shot.
- Live attenuated vaccine: A vaccine using a weakened form of a germ to produce an asymptomatic infection and generate an immune response similar to a natural infection, without sickness. Examples include the MMR and chickenpox vaccines.
- Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine: A vaccine that teaches cells how to make a protein or a piece of a protein that triggers an immune response in the body and produce antibodies, which provide protection if a person encounters the real pathogen. Examples include the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.
- Natural infection: Contraction of a disease through person-to-person transmission or interaction with disease-causing bacteria.
- Passive immunity: Immunity after receiving disease-fighting antibodies from an external source.
- R0: (Pronounced “r-naught”) The reproductive number of a disease that describes the average number of additional cases a single infected person creates.
- Subunit vaccine: A vaccine using a component of the germ (such as a specific protein) to produce an immune response. This vaccine does not contain a live germ. Examples include the shingles and HPV vaccines.
- Vaccine: A controlled simulation of natural infection meant to trigger antibody creation that helps fight against the disease later, without sickness.
- participating in global research to genotype communities and help produce viable vaccines.
- administering vaccines so patients can stay up-to-date on immunization schedules and travel requirements.
- educating patients on the importance of vaccination and the specific information related to different vaccines.
Is it possible to achieve herd immunity without a vaccine?
Is herd immunity effective against all diseases?
Can you still get COVID-19 after being vaccinated?
Can you still get the flu after a flu shot?
Why do I need to get vaccinated for diseases we already have herd immunity for?
Is immunity from a natural infection stronger than immunity from a vaccination?
- CDC Immunization Schedules: The CDC-recommended vaccination series and timing schedule for children, adolescents, and adults.
- The CDC Yellow Book: A set of travel health guidelines, including country-specific vaccine recommendations and requirements.
- Questions About Vaccines, FDA: The FDA’s collection of information regarding specific vaccines and approvals.
- The Power of Herd Immunity, TED Talk by Romina Libster: Health researcher Romina Libster tells the story of an H1N1 outbreak in her town and the role of herd immunity.
- Vaccines by Disease, HHS: Vaccine-specific answers to questions such as: “Why is this vaccine important?” and “What are the side effects of this vaccine?”