Despite slowing appointments, Upstate doctor thinks Central New York can still get to herd immunity

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — As coronavirus vaccinations slow down just before Central New York’s population gets to 50 percent vaccinated, a doctor form Upstate University Hospital thinks herd immunity is still possible locally.

“I don’t know if it’s possible on a national level, to be honest with you. I think that on a county level, maybe even a regional level, I think it’s possible,” says Dr. Stephen Thomas.

He says, “Are we there yet? No. Could we potentially get there? I think we could. We need many more adults to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated.”

Thomas warns that adults still need to make appointments, because the remaining percentage of children won’t make up the difference once they’re authorized by the FDA to be eligible.

Herd immunity means that so much of the population is immune to an illness, somewhere between 70 and 90 percent, that people without immunity are also protected by decreased spread.

Central New York is at 49.7% of people who’ve gotten at least one shot.

The CNY data is similar to a survey done by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which shows 56% of people have already gotten the shot and 9% of people will get it soon.

The survey shows that 15% of people are waiting, 9% will only get the shot if required and 13% definitely won’t.

Dr. Thomas says, “If the answer is ‘I don’t like people telling me what to do,’ Okay. I understand that. We live in a society and there are certain things that have to happen for the good of the whole versus the good of individual. You may choose to not be vaccinated, but these are the things not going to be available to you.”

Thomas thinks that eventually, organizations like employers, schools, sports venues and transportation companies, will consider making the vaccine mandatory.

Friday, Pfizer requested full FDA approval for its vaccine, a promotion from the current emergency use authorization.

Dr. Thomas believes full approval is a key piece needed before having the discussion about mandatory vaccines.

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