Local doctors optimistic for herd immunity, need children eligible for vaccines first

10/11 NOW at Ten
Published: May. 5, 2021 at 9:37 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Lancaster County health officials have said its goal is to vaccinate at least 75% of the eligible population. To reach herd immunity, meaning the spread of the virus is almost non-existent, some doctors say it’ll take more than that.

Doctors suggest getting at least 80% to 85% of the eligible population vaccinated and getting children eligible for it.

“It’s within our grasp if we all choose to do it,” One Health Nebraska CMO, Dr. Bob Rauner, said.

Dr. Rauner describes herd immunity as a math equation; The more transmissible a virus is, the higher percentage of people will need a vaccine.

“We can’t have pockets that say we don’t want to get vaccinated while that group does and we do know what those pockets are unfortunately so we’ve got to make progress on all of those pockets,” Dr. Rauner said.

He said an important step to take is getting kids vaccinated. That could be a possibility soon as Pfizer is looking for emergency use authorization in kids 12 through 15.

Dr. Rauner said, “Schools are so connected to the entire community and I cite a study where 35% of adults are directly connected to the school.”

But getting vaccines out to eligible groups has been difficult recently. CHI Health is concerned with the downward trend of vaccinations since mid-April.

Chief infectious disease expert at CHI Health, Dr. Renuga Vivekanandan, said, “It’s important to get our vaccine rates up to bring the infection rate down so then we can have some normalcy.”

It’s unknown how long it’ll take to get to normalcy especially since new variants of the virus are in Nebraska.

Bryan Health pulmonologist, Dr. Kevin Reichmuth, said, “The more this virus circulates, and can move around, the more likely we’re going to see all kinds of mutations and variants.”

Doctors said this means until a higher number of people are vaccinated, it’s more likely we’ll continue seeing infectious variants of COVID-19.

All three vaccines are effective against the variants, according to Bryan and CHI Health. Pfizer will ask for emergency use authorization for children two to 11 in September.

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