Herd immunity and why it may not be reached in the U.S.

HERD IMMUNITY describes a scenario where enough people are vaccinated against Covid to stop the spread of the disease. Getty Images

Brooklyn Staab | Student Life Editor & Publicity Manager

May 10, 2021

Recently, there has been lots of discussion about whether or not the U.S. will achieve herd immunity. Herd immunity occurs when a high enough majority of the population is immune to a disease, severing the links by which the disease is transmitted and making the rate of infection little to none. If herd immunity is reached, life could possibly go back to how it was before the pandemic. Image that.

Many people in the US have not and will not get the COVID-19 vaccination for a multitude of reasons, many of which are related to the lack of understanding of the vaccine and how it works. While there are plenty of people in the US who are vaccinated–currently about 35% have received both doses and another 10% have gotten the first–herd immunity may never be reached, making many of us wonder if life will ever go back to “normal.” 

Because so many people are not planning on getting the vaccine, the needed percentage of the population (60-80% of all Americans) may not achieve immunity to COVID-19, meaning herd immunity could never be reached. Some scientists argue that over time, herd immunity will be reached without the vaccines, but it would cost many more lives and much more time.  

COUNTDOWN TO HERD IMMUNITY: The stats are currently not looking good for a disease-free America. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
NEW ACCESS: Everyone above the age of 16 is able to sign up to get a vaccine (New York Times)

Eligibility for the vaccine has recently become more widely available as well. As of April 16, anyone who is 16 years or older can sign up to be vaccinated in any state. On May 10, the FDA approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine for 12-to-15-year-olds. “I would encourage anyone who can to get the vaccine,” senior Chloe Schweer said. There is really no need to hesitate for signing up for the vaccine if you’re worried you will steal someone else’s spot. People who were at higher risk have already been able to sign up for their vaccine, and now it is time to get the majority of the population vaccinated. 

There are currently three strands of COVID-19 in California, which mostly target the age group of 16-35, so signing up for the vaccine is essential even for young, healthy people. Herd immunity is absolutely essential. Without it, the virus will continue to mutate into more strands that may be even more harmful, which may put even the vaccinated population at risk for another hard hit of Covid. However, everyone has the capability of taking action now to finally get us out of this nightmare. After months of uncertainty, we are finally presented with a way out. That end might be here, but only if we seize it; only through herd immunity can we ever start to rebuild our pre-Covid lives without fear. 

“I know that I will most likely survive it if I were to get Covid,” junior Isabella Duzman said, “but I couldn’t say the same about anyone who might have health problems due to their age or conditions.” Even if you do not feel personally at risk, Covid still poses a significant threat to others and the well-being of the world as a whole. Please–get vaccinated.

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