Herd Immunity

What it looks like and when we will achieve it

by: Ariana Pasquini '21

As we approach Joe Biden's 100th day in office, April 30th, his goal of administering 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations has not only been met but the United States is on track to have administered over 150 million vaccinations within Photo credit Joe Raedle

that same time frame. The Biden-Harris administration had made it clear that their primary objective going into the White House was to curb the spread of COVID-19, and by enacting the Defense Production Act; the ability to expedite and expand the supply of materials and services from the U.S. industrial base to the production of vaccine supplies has made that a possibility.

Herd immunity is defined as a form of indirect protection from an infectious disease that can occur when a sufficient percentage of a population has become immune to an infection. With approximately 14% of the US population fully vaccinated, 2 weeks out from their second shot, and 77% of the population having received at least their first shot we are in a far better place than expected. Dr. Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical advisor to the president states that while, “We don’t really know what that magical point of herd immunity is, we do know that if we get the overwhelming population vaccinated, we’re going to be in good shape,”. Fauci has estimated that it would take 75% to 90% of the population being vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. With 22.3% of the US population being under the age of 18 and the plethora of adults who either can't or are unwilling to be vaccinated, it will be impossible to meet Dr. Fauci’s target without the ability to vaccinate children and teens.

Currently only the Pfizer vaccine is available to anyone under the age of 18 as it has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in people as young as 16. Moderna has started the process of testing the safety and effectiveness of their vaccine on children from as young as 6 months to 18 years old, and Johnson and Johnson announced they will be following Pfizer and Moderna’s path and begin testing on children under 18. Fauci predicts high school students will have access to the vaccine as early as fall 2021, and those 12 and under within the first quarter of 2022. With children being the key to the U.S reaching herd immunity for not only the safety of them but the rest of our country, it couldn't come any sooner.