Chicago’s Northshore and surrounding area has been scrambling to keep Covid rates down and push for mass vaccinations, but we’re still wading through the weeds to get a handle on the pandemic. All hands are on deck trying to vaccinate as many people as possible in order to quickly achieve herd immunity. But what qualifies as enough?
To qualify as herd immunity health officials are monitoring infection rates and hospitalization as more people are being vaccinated. Once there is significant proof of a disruption in infection rates we can safely assume we are reaching herd immunity. Even with new variant strains emerging, the vaccines protect against the worst ones and with high vaccine efficacy, less people need to be vaccinated. Although some people are being re infected, to stop the uncontrolled spread the focus needs to be on getting vaccinated and those who have had a prior infection. If the current vaccines prove not to be as effective against the variant strains then more than the 70% of the population will need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity or an updated vaccine will need to be administered.
In order for herd immunity to be calculated health officials are busy researching how contagious the virus is. The objective is to look for a broad target with a big drop off. Unfortunately, this varies by region and outbreaks can still flare up, leaving no easy answer for an end in sight. Thankfully both Pfizer and Maderna have high efficacy rates at 95% and 94% which should lead to fewer people needing to be vaccinated. The key take away is to get vaccinated and vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible.