Now that COVID-19 vaccines are available to any adult in the Lone Star State, we’re inching toward herd immunity, a term that's been used by many throughout this pandemic.
But what exactly is herd immunity?
“It just means that enough people in the community have either experienced the disease, whether it's a virus or bacteria whatever it is, or they received a vaccination that if they were exposed, they would not receive that infection," explained Karen Percell, executive director for quality of AdventHealth of Central Texas.
Percell says about 75 to 80 percent of the community needs to get vaccinated to reach herd immunity.
“With the combination of getting vaccinated and then practicing all of our social distancing and masking protocols, we should be able to really flatten the curve and eliminate this as something that's really so burdensome to our society,” she said.
With 10 million doses administered and 13% of Texans considered fully vaccinated, experts say it’s going to take everyone who can get a vaccine to do so.
“We have to kind of protect each other,” said Amy Mersiovosky, director of the nursing department at Texas A&M Central Texas. “That's the most important thing about everybody getting their vaccines.”
But is herd immunity a realistic expectation when COVID-19 variations are spreading? Mersiovosky says yes.
“The more and more of us who are immune to COVID-19, even the original, is going to be able to slow down the other ones,” she said.
If you’re still hesitant to get your vaccine, Percell says to not be worried, but instead to talk with your healthcare provider.
“This has been some of the highest rates of industry for evolving vaccination,” she explained. “We never produced vaccines this fast, but they were also really well studied.”
Both experts advise the community to continue masking up and practicing CDC guidelines, even if we reach herd immunity.