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Health experts: Herd immunity will be a challenge

Published: May. 3, 2021 at 6:58 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Herd immunity.

It’s the shiny phrase health officials talk about when discussing COVID-19 vaccinations. 70-85%t of the population vaccinated is the herd immunity goal. With it we could get rid of COVID-19 and return to pre-pandemic conditions. The CDC says over 40% of U.S. adults are fully vaccinated. Almost 35% of Wisconsinites are.

But now health experts are saying herd immunity will be a challenge.

The vaccine is causing fewer cases, deaths and hospitalizations of COVID-19. At the same time, vaccinations are slowing down nationwide.

Last week, over 224,000 Wisconsinites completed their vaccination series. But 200,000 less than the week of April 4.

Variants are one reason experts say herd immunity will be difficult. Another is kids and teens. At the moment only 16 and older can get the vaccine. But that is expected to change next week with the FDA approving the Pfizer vaccine for kids 12-15 on Monday.

“The 0-11 year old’s probably aren’t going to be eligibly vaccinated, that’s a fairly significant percentage of the population,” said Dr. Matt Anderson of UW Health. “You have to hit a very, very high percentage of immunized people within the 16-plus population in order to cover that. So I think where we’re at right now that’s a little bit aggressive.”

In Wisconsin, 14-under makes up 21% of the population at more than 1.1-million. Add in 15-year-old’s and that number increases.

You also have a portion of the population with vaccine hesitancy. So, while herd immunity will be a challenge, the higher the population that gets vaccinated the better we can manage COVID-19.

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