Working Towards 'Herd Immunity' In Oklahoma By Increasing Vaccination Rates


Tuesday, August 31st 2021, 6:30 pm
By: Erica Rankin


OKLAHOMA CITY -

With vaccinations steadily on the rise, are we still working to get 70% of the population vaccinated to reach herd immunity? Will the pandemic end or will we be dealing with it for forever and just get to the path of normality?

Right now, the state has 43.7% of its eligible population fully vaccinated. For those with only one dose, that percentage is 53.2%.

"It really is in hindsight," said Dr. Mary Clarke, the president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association. "I don't think we are going to be able to get herd immunity."

Clarke said even though the state's vaccination rate is slowly trickling up, it's too late for herd immunity because of how much the virus has already mutated.

"By time we even get close to herd immunity, it will likely have to mutate and come under the vaccine or whatever prior infection immunity you had," said Clarke.

So, from here, health officials have predicted it will move from a pandemic to an endemic.

"To me, this is shifting from being a situation like the measles or something where the vaccine is extremely effective at eliminating the transmission of the virus to being something like the flu," said Dr. David Kendrick, founder and CEO of MyHealth Access Network.

Kendrick has been monitoring COVID-19 data from the beginning. He said the difficult thing moving forward will be to predict the seasonality of the virus.

"It's popped up in the dead of winter and the heat of summer, and we don't yet understand how quickly variants emerge, but we know they do emerge," said Kendrick.

Though the vaccine won't wipeout COVID-19, and breakthrough cases have emerged, health officials said the vaccine is effective in keeping people out of our hospitals that have reached capacity.

"The situation we find ourselves in is having a great vaccine to preserve life and wellbeing, but not a great one yet to completely eradicate the virus," said Kendrick.