Will Herd Immunity Be Delayed by Drops in COVID-19 Vaccine Registrations?

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For nearly a year, herd immunity has been the words to signify the finish line that marks an end to a time when the world seems turned upside down.

Epidemiologists say to reach it, about 80% of people need antibodies from having contracted the virus or a vaccine.

“Our model predicts around mid-June we'll hit that target,” said UNT Health Science Center School of Public Health’s Dr. Rajesh Nandy.

Nandy, an associate professor, said DFW’s currently about 57% of the way there.

But with Dallas County recently urging people to sign up for vaccines, saying it's nearly cleared through its waiting list and Garland temporarily pausing registrations due to a high number of no-shows, how long will it take to make it the rest of the way?

"It's certainly a cause for concern, and we need to monitor it. But maybe in a couple of weeks, we'll be able to see if there's a real slow down and maybe how much,” said Nandy.

Currently, about two-thirds of eligible adults in DFW haven't received a single dose of the vaccine.

Nandy said those aged 16 to 35 account for a large part of that group.

With eligibility opening up and plenty of vaccine supply, he's hopeful that will soon change. Because though young adults are the least likely to die from the virus, they are the most likely to spread it.

Regardless, Nandy said herd immunity will eventually be reached.

The question is how and how long it takes.

"Sooner or later we'll get there. But whether we get there the easy way or the hard way depends on us,” said Nandy.

Herd immunity relies on several factors including the impact of variants of the virus and how long vaccines last.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, also recently suggested that vaccinating kids, once approved, might be necessary to reach herd immunity.

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