Updated: May 04, 2021 05:47 PM
Created: May 04, 2021 04:39 PM
(ABC 6 News) - You may have heard herd immunity is no longer possible, maybe because of vaccine hesitancy or the Covid 19 variants, but health experts said we will reach herd immunity no matter what. Its just a matter of saving lives along the way.
"Over time, we will reach herd immunity, its really a question of will we do it the old-fashioned way or with vaccine, which will prevent people from having to potentially be at risk of severe disease and maybe even death," Graham Briggs, director of Olmsted County Public Health, said.
When he says old-fashioned, Briggs explained before vaccines, a virus would sweep through populations until everyone had caught it and built immunity or died, which of course meant far more deaths than we see today. But now we have a vaccine.
"The population as a whole is going to reach heard immunity one way or another. Its just there's a painful way to do it and a less painful way to do it," Briggs said.
More vaccinations means fewer deaths. Good news for us here in Olmsted County: we are already on the right track.
"Seventy three percent of people who can get a shot have, so we're partially protected. We've also got people in the community who have been infected but haven't been vaccinated, so that adds to immunity as well," Briggs said.
Experts guess herd immunity for Covid 19 happens when somewhere around 80% of a population becomes immune.
Some health experts said those choosing not to get vaccinated are potentially putting themselves at a greater risk as the pandemic progresses.
"For people who are not immunized, they actually enter now into the most dangerous phase of the pandemic," Dr. Greg Poland, director of Mayo Clinic's vaccine research group, said.
Dr. Poland also said the variants of the virus are only getting worse, and only those with the vaccine will be protected.
"Over this past week, almost a quarter of new Covid cases were in children too young to get the vaccine," Dr. Poland said.
The FDA is expected to approve the Pfizer vaccine for use in children 12 to 15 later this week. Experts say this will make it easier to achieve herd immunity through vaccination, rather than hospitalization.
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