10TV: What is Herd Immunity? And When Will We Reach It?
Herd immunity is a term we've heard bounced around since the COVID-19 pandemic began. But do you really know what it means? According to Joseph Gastaldo, MD, OhioHealth system medical director of infectious diseases, herd immunity is when there are enough people protected from an infection, such as COVID-19, that those who aren't immune from it are still safe.
“We want that number as high as possible,” Dr. Gastaldo said in an interview with 10TV reporter Olivia Ugino.
So now that there are multiple COVID-19 vaccines available, will reach herd immunity, soon? And what percentage of the population needs to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity? Dr. Gastaldo told 10TV he doesn't know when we will reach it, but for now, people need to get vaccinated when their time comes.
“Nobody can really tell you what that (percentage is to reach herd immunity), it's really a best guesstimate," Dr. Gastaldo told 10TV. "Some people say 60 percent, some people say more in the 70 to 75 percent range, based on the variants that we're seeing more in this country. So it really is a range. We will know when we get to herd immunity when our positivity rate really bottoms out,” Dr. Gastaldo said.
Dr. Gastaldo told 10TV that new strains of the virus could actually raise the number of people needed for herd immunity. There is also the populations of those who choose not to get vaccinated and others, such as children, who can't currently get vaccinated.
For now, Dr. Gastaldo says to take the vaccine when it's your turn and don't think that the declining number of positive cases and hospitalizations means you don't need to get vaccinated.
“Sometime this summer there will likely be more vaccines than the (demand) and one of my concerns is that those who have vaccine hesitancy will have less urgency to be vaccinated once they continue to hear all the positive numbers out there,” said Dr. Gastaldo.
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