By Laura Haefeli

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) —  In the coming months, you will start to hear the term “herd immunity,” used by journalists, politicians, and medical professionals in relation to the novel coronavirus. They need it, we say, in order to return to normal. So what is herd immunity, and how can we achieve it?

Dr. Olivia Kasirye, Public Health Officer, Sacramento County says having that shield of vaccinated people is herd immunity. “They, in effect, create a shield for the members of the community that are still susceptible,” Kasirye said.

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Governor Gavin Newsom has also spoken about the importance of a vaccine and herd immunity.

“The prospect of mass gatherings is negligible at best until we get to herd immunity and we get to a vaccine,” Newsom said during a press conference Wednesday.

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We may not be able to achieve one without the other. If we attempt herd immunity before we develop a vaccine, the already high death rate will likely only get worse.