COVID-19 Herd Immunity: Is it Possible and Are We Close?

COVID-19 Herd Immunity: Is it Possible and Are We Close?

We’re seeing good developments in global efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the form of the availability of effective vaccines and an increasing number of vaccine inoculations. Coupled with mask mandates, quarantine regulations, and social distancing efforts, we’re putting up a good fight against the global pandemic. 

All of these are in an effort to achieve herd immunity, which is when the majority of people develop natural or acquired immunity to the virus, hence losing its ability to spread. But looking at today’s rise of COVID-19 cases, the continuous mutation of new variants, and the number of people getting vaccinated, how close are we to the ultimate goal of herd immunity? Let’s look at the numbers. 

How Do We Achieve Herd Immunity?

Just as in past pandemics, the vaccines are the keys to achieving herd immunity, but it needs to be accessible and inoculated to at least 75% to 80% of the United States population. That’s roughly 248 million people. 

As of writing, there are over 4,000 variants of COVID-19, including the famous delta and lambda that are doubling the number of infected everyday. Without widespread vaccination, the virus will continue to mutate to possibly more transmissible and dangerous variants. 

When the majority of people are protected against the virus, the risk of mutation and community transmission is significantly decreased. The virus will have no host, disabling it from affecting the community.

A June 2021 analysis conducted by the Associated Press revealed that only 0.8% of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. were in fully vaccinated individuals. That means that more than 99% of deaths were among the unvaccinated. 

The pandemic will only end when everyone is given access to vaccines and receives their shots. Experts, scientists, and governments know it, which is why prioritizing global vaccine access is an action item for immediate attention.

How Close Are We to Herd Immunity?

According to CNN’s vaccination tracker, 50.4% of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated, while 8.9% have received their first dose. As long as this rate of vaccine inoculation continues, herd immunity is not so far-fetched. 

There are logistical hurdles to vaccinating a huge population, especially at a time of vaccine anxiety and misinformation. But with a global ambition to achieve herd immunity by 2022, we are close to the end of this two-year pandemic war.

Our Role in Achieving Herd Immunity

More and more people are getting vaccinated — and that’s a good sign of development towards herd immunity. If you can get your vaccine and it’s accessible in your area, we urge you to get your shots and contribute to our fight against COVID-19. 

Children play a role in achieving herd immunity as well, considering that over 22% of the U.S. population is made up of children and teens under 18. Now that children ages 12 and above are eligible for Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine inoculation, it’s highly recommended that they get their doses as well and secure their contribution to achieving herd immunity. 

There are, however, some areas whose vaccine supply is unable to meet the demand. More so, some categories of people, such as children below 12 years old, are yet to be eligible to receive their shots. 

While we wait for more vaccine developments to cater to these groups, let’s do our part to protect the unvaccinated and reduce the transmission of COVID-19 by wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and adhering to local health protocols.

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