(NEW YORK) -- Getting a COVID-19 vaccine isn't just about protecting yourself, it goes a long way toward protecting your family, according to a new blog post by the director of the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Francis Collins also noted in his Tuesday post that the data shows adults getting vaccinated helps protect those who can't get vaccines, especially children.
"This is a chance to love your family -- and love your neighbor," Collins wrote.
Collins reiterated that studies have shown vaccinated individuals are significantly less likely to spread coronavirus to family members within a household. He cited a Swedish study published in JAMA Internal Medicine Journal last week that looked at 1.8 million people from more than 800,000 families "who acquired immunity from either previous COVID-19 infection or full vaccination."
"The data show," Collins wrote, "that people without any immunity against COVID-19 were at considerably lower risk of infection and hospitalization when other members of their family had immunity, either from a natural infection or vaccination."
Specifically, the study found that households with one immune family member had a 45% to 61% lower risk of a COVID-19 infection, and that when a household included two immune family members the risk dropped 75% to 86%. With three or more immune family members, the risk of infection dropped almost 97%.
"These results show quite clearly that vaccines offer protection for individuals who lack immunity, with important implications for finally ending this pandemic," Collins wrote.
Dr. John Brownstein, an epidemiologist at Boston Children's Hospital and an ABC News contributor, said Collins' message is important because there needs to be more emphasis on how getting a vaccination is an altruistic act for the entire community.
"We get a lot of focus on individual risk and side effects, and it takes our eye off the ball for the real reason we can and want the population to get inoculated," he said.
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Brownstein said it's imperative that every eligible person gets vaccine shots as soon as possible since it may take a while for tens of millions of American children to be fully protected.
"Vaccines create a cocoon that ultimately protects those who aren't eligible," he added.
Anyone who needs help scheduling a free vaccine appointment can log onto vaccines.gov.