Herd Immunity – The Hurdles

Angie SzumlinskiHealth

Per the CDC, 75%-89% of people must be vaccinated against the coronavirus to allow us to acquire “herd immunity” so that we can return to normal activities. Mass vaccination faces a myriad of hurdles that must be overcome: nationwide planning and logistics, vaccine production, public distrust, and lingering scientific unknowns.

Dr. Fauci, Director of NIAID, told Axios, “what we have to see is a rate of test positivity that’s extremely low. I mean, really low. But the real proof in the pudding is how many people in the United States get vaccinated.” “If you have 75%-80% of the people vaccinated, you create an umbrella of herd immunity that even though there is a virus around, it is really almost inconsequential because it has no place to go because almost all of the people are protected,” Fauci said.

Hurdles to be Addressed

  1. Sustain current public health measures, like mask wearing and social distancing, while the vaccines are rolled out and distributed.
  2. Determine logistics and equitable distribution of vaccines. Several of the vaccines have strict “cold-chain requirements” that required planning, and there’s concern the most vulnerable may not get access quickly.
  3. Address misinformation. “We need strong scientific communicators” to explain the terminology and what people should expect, Julie Fischer, senior technical adviser for global health at CRDF Global, told Axios.
  4. Explain the science behind vaccines, particularly mRNA ones. “Even though this is a new technology, it is actually a huge improvement on the old, crude ways of making vaccines,” Fischer says.
  5. Continue gathering scientific data about remaining scientific unknowns in a transparent way.

The bottom line: “For everyone who has been struggling with the real uncertainty of when this all ends and we can go back to the new normal, we have an actual light at the end of what has seemed to be a very, very long tunnel,” Fischer said.