Family Healthcast: What is herd immunity?

Family Healthcast

(WSYR-TV) — As the nation deals with alarming new spikes in coronavirus cases in Florida, Arizona and Texas, millions of Americans are dealing with new restrictions.

In the short term, the virus needs to be contained. But, our question is about the long term. What is herd immunity when it comes to coronavirus?

NewsChannel 9 checked with an infectious disease specialist who said herd immunity is where enough people are immune to an infection that it stops spreading, even after all preventive measures have been relaxed because enough people could fight it off.

There are varying estimates about what percentage of people would need to be immune to coronavirus to reach that goal. It is generally somewhere between 50 and 70 percent. Now, this may not be possible for coronavirus without many more people dying.

That is where a vaccine comes in. Even if a vaccine wasn’t 100 percent effective, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the White House Coronavirus Task Force said he would settle for 70 percent. This could have the potential to create herd immunity.

But, Fauci said if enough people refuse the vaccine, that would not be possible.

That said, a vaccine is likely not going to be available for many months, so a local doctor said in the meantime, Central New Yorkers would be smart to look at what’s happening in the states where the virus is surging.

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