*As the war against unvaccinated Americans continues, health officials now claim vaccine hesitancy is the main obstacle in achieving herd immunity.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has pushed for achieving herd immunity. According to the Mayo Clinic, herd immunity occurs when a large portion of a community (the herd) becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. As a result, the whole community becomes protected — not just those who are immune.
Americans have been told that once 70% to 85% of the population is vaccinated against COVID-19, the virus will go away. Now, the CDC is moving away from its herd immunity goal, LA Times reports.
“Thinking that we’ll be able to achieve some kind of threshold where there’ll be no more transmission of infections may not be possible,” said Dr. Jefferson Jones, a medical officer on the CDC’s COVID-19 Epidemiology Task Force.
Here’s more from LA Times:
Vaccines have been quite effective at preventing cases of COVID-19 that lead to severe illness and death, but none has proved reliable at blocking transmission of the virus, Jones noted. Recent evidence has also made clear that the immunity provided by vaccines can wane in a matter of months. The result is that even if vaccination were universal, the coronavirus would probably continue to spread.
“We would discourage” thinking in terms of “a strict goal,” said Dr. Jones.
“It’s a science-communications problem,” said Dr. John Brooks, chief medical officer for the CDC’s COVID-19 response.
“We said, based on our experience with other diseases, that when you get up to 70% to 80%, you often get herd immunity,” he said.
“It has a lot of tricks up its sleeve, and it’s repeatedly challenged us,” he said of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. “It’s impossible to predict what herd immunity will be in a new pathogen until you reach herd immunity.”
The CDC’s new approach will see public health officials redefining success as ongoing low rates of new infections and deaths.
“We want clean, easy answers, and sometimes they exist,” John Brooks said. “But on this one, we’re still learning.”