As each day passes, more and more people from countries all over the world are receiving the vaccination against COVID-19. Because of this, people are starting to have a glimmer of hope that life would finally return to normal soon.
However, before you start throwing your masks away and neglect other safety measures, health experts are keen on continuing these to ensure everyone’s safety, especially in public settings.
What is collective immunity and how do we increase it?
The pace of immunizations against COVID-19 has picked up all over the world. This raises an important question everybody is eager to know: are we going to achieve collective immunity soon and go back to our normal lives?
Collective immunity, otherwise known as herd immunity, is the term used to describe the indirect protection of a specific population from an infectious disease. This happens when people develop immunity from having the disease itself, or they may acquire this through immunizations.
Certain diseases like polio, mumps, measles, and chickenpox, which were common back in the days are now less likely to be seen. This was achieved through collective immunity obtained from disease-specific vaccines. This is what the health sector is aiming for with the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines too.
When collective immunity is achieved, the spread of disease throughout the whole population would be reduced. The transmission of COVID-19 can be lessened. Hence, unnecessary morbidity and mortality from the virus can be more controlled.
Collective immunity can be increased as long as the people are compliant with the immunizations available. This is why getting immunized as soon as possible is important.
Does the vaccine increase collective immunity?
When a large part of the population is immunized with the available vaccines against COVID-19, collective immunity may be achieved. Vaccines are the best way to achieve this immunity, and the more people are vaccinated, the closer we are to achieving it.
The majority of scientists around the world also agree that through herd immunity, everybody could go back to the way it was before but there are many factors hinder achieving collective immunity. Factors like vaccine hesitancy and the emergence of newly mutated variants make achieving collective immunity a little harder than it already is as the present vaccines available in the market, might not be effective on the new variants specifically.
To combat these challenges, the production and distribution of the vaccines should be speed up to reach as many countries and citizens as possible.
Spreading awareness is perhaps one of the best ways to encourage people to get vaccinated and inch a bit closer towards collective immunity.
Shall we still follow social distancing and wear masks after vaccination?
Even if you have already been inoculated with the vaccine against COVID-19, following the safety measures to avoid the said virus should still be the rule. Use of face masks, plastic face shields, medical eye protections, and following physical distancing should be continued in the coming months.
Here are some reasons why it should still be followed:
- Vaccines do not provide 100% efficiency – The vaccines made to fight COVID-19 do not necessarily give you full protection.
- It takes time for the immunization to take effect – The majority of the vaccines produced require two doses to reach their maximum effectiveness. After being inoculated with the first dose, you will only have a partial immune response. Being vaccinated does not necessarily mean you are protected right after the first dose.
- The doses of the vaccines are still limited – According to experts, 50-80% of the whole population of the United States needs to be immunized before they gain collective immunity, for instance. Indeed, the production of the vaccines and the manufacturing of the disposable syringes remain the main challenge as the whole world needs the same thing, at the exact same time.
- Those who are immunized may still be carriers of the virus – Wearing face masks and practicing physical distancing is important to lessen the transmission because some inoculated individuals may still carry the virus, even if they are asymptomatic.
Collective immunity may still be a long way to go for the majority of the countries. Hence, we should still follow the safety measures and protocols if we want the pandemic to end. Face masks and physical distancing are still essential for limiting the transmission of COVID-19. Still, with the vaccine being made available to almost all countries, we could somehow see a glimmer of hope – the light at the end of the tunnel.