“Herd Immunity”

Celeste Lynch, Lion's Roar Staff

After nine months of social distancing, event cancellations, and mask-wearing, the coronavirus vaccine has finally been approved. Pfizer and Moderna’s COVID vaccines have proven effective in clinical trials and are going to be rolled out in the coming months, but this doesn’t mean that life will go back to normal anytime soon. Before we can go back to normal, we have to achieve herd immunity.

According to the World Health Organization, herd immunity is a concept used for vaccination, in which a population can be protected from a certain virus if a threshold of vaccination is reached. Basically, once the majority of the population is vaccinated, people will become increasingly less likely to contract and spread the virus. On December 13, 2020, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the Nation Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, predicted that the United States could achieve herd immunity against COVID-19, by “the end of the second quarter of 2021”. According to Fauci, the vaccines will be widely available to most Americans by the spring. Fauci claimed that “sometime by the end of March, the beginning of April, that the normal healthy man and woman in the street who has no underlying conditions would likely get it”. However, this all depends on the willingness of people to get vaccinated. Many people fear the vaccines side-effects, or think it’s unsafe because of how quickly it was developed. In order to reassure the population, Presidents Obama, Bush, and Clinton have volunteered to get vaccinated publicly, so that the nation could follow their example. Facui has also promised to do the same. “As soon as my turn comes up, which likely will be very soon, I’m going to get vaccinated publicly, so that people can see that I feel strongly that this is something we should do”.

Although these new vaccines provide a light at the end of the tunnel, Facui said that extraordinary health measures, like masks and social distancing are likely to continue into the second half of 2021 and beyond. The only way to get back to normal is to get the infection rate so low that it’s no longer a public health threat. The most effective way to lower the infection rate is to continue to follow all public health measures and to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Some of the first COVID vaccines have already been distributed to the elderly and frontline workers, and have been proven to be over 90% effective in clinical trials. Pfizer’s vaccine requires two doses, three weeks apart, to be fully effective, so it will take a long time before everyone can be fully vaccinated and protected from the