covid-19 vaccine

More Vaccinations Could Mean Herd Immunity By Early Summer

Scientists say if current vaccination rates continue, Dallas County could reach herd immunity by mid-June

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Now that every adult in Texas is eligible for a vaccine, will we be able to reach herd immunity faster?

Herd immunity is when roughly 80% of the population is either vaccinated or has antibodies it's considered a major milestone in ending the pandemic.

Researchers at The Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation project that Dallas County could reach herd immunity by the middle of June, perhaps sooner if supply increases.

"We should think about it as not the end game but a real important milestone towards the new normal," said the center's President and CEO Steve Miff, Ph.D.

Right now, there's enough supply in Dallas County to give a first dose to about 58,000 residents a week.

To date, 19% of Dallas County residents have been vaccinated. Citing research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that says for every one confirmed case there could actually be as many as 5.5 cases of COVID-19, PCCI estimates 36% of the county's residents, or about 950,000 people, may already have antibodies to COVID-19.

PCCI told NBC 5 they estimate three adult infections for every confirmed adult case and five adult infections for every confirmed child case.

"The challenge that we have moving forward, even with the opening of the vaccines of all adults, is to continue registering individuals, continue to make sure that we can administer those vaccines," said Miff.

More shots in arms, he said, means a better chance of getting out in front the virus before it mutates, which is a possibility as it continues to spread at a rapid pace among children and teenagers, who aren't eligible to be vaccinated.

While severe illness for adolescents is rare, the rate of infection poses a threat as it gives the virus ample opportunity to mutate into variants that may not respond to the current COVID-19 vaccines.

"This is a sprint," said Miff. "Can we get to herd immunity ahead of new variants emerging and taking hold where the vaccines become less effective in the future?"

To date, a total of 19 cases of the SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7; two cases of B.1.429 variants; and one case of a B.1.526 variant have been identified in residents of Dallas County.

An outbreak of over 50 cases of COVID-19 has been reported this past week among high school students who attended a dance and dinner on March 13.

During the past 30 days, there were 1,351 COVID-19 cases in school-aged children and staff reported from 415 separate K-12 schools in Dallas County.

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