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How a vaccine helps

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is one of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself and your community. The more people who get vaccinated against COVID-19, the better it is for everyone. More people vaccinated means that there will be less disease in our communities. Vaccination will also help prevent the spread of new COVID-19 variants. We will start to get back to the activities we love, open up business and schools, and scale back our public health prevention measures, such as masking and social distancing. Vaccination is how we will end the pandemic.

Herd immunity is also called herd effect, community immunity, population immunity, or social immunity. This is when most people in a population or group are immune to a disease. Being immune means they cannot get the disease because either they got a vaccine, or they already had the disease and cannot get it again, at least for a while. When a lot of people cannot get the disease, it helps to protect other people in the population who are not immune and can get the disease. Having herd immunity can stop or slow the spread of disease.

  • We do not know enough about COVID-19 to be sure herd immunity is possible. This is a new disease, so there has not been enough time to fully study immunity yet.

  • We do not know how long a person cannot get sick again after they already were sick with COVID-19 (how long they are immune).

  • We do not know if being infected before will make the next infection better or worse.

  • We do not know if a person who was sick before, and then has contact with COVID-19 again, will be able to pass the virus to others again.

We cannot let herd immunity happen naturally, at the cost of thousands of Minnesotans getting very sick and possibly dying. Vaccination is a way to reach herd immunity without people getting sick and/or dying. Vaccination lets a person's body develop protection against a disease without having to actually get sick.

We are glad so many people want to get vaccinated and know that waiting for vaccine is extremely hard right now. We have to take a phased approach and try to focus initial doses where we'll have the greatest impact on health. Vaccine is constantly being made and distributed. Everyone's opportunity to get vaccinated will come; it will just take some time.

You can do your part now by continuing to help slow the spread of COVID-19: Wear a mask, wash your hands often, stay 6 feet away from other people, and stay home if you are sick. Doing all of these things will help keep people healthy until a vaccine is widely available.

You can also get a flu vaccine. While the flu vaccine does not protect against COVID-19, it can save lives and prevent more illness during the COVID-19 pandemic. To find where you can get a flu vaccine, call your health care provider.

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