Health Experts Worry Covid Herd Immunity Is Unattainable

CHARLOTTE, NC – Vaccination rates across the country are slowing. Local and national health experts warn that achieving herd immunity may not be possible as new variants arise and people decline the shot.

“The optimist in me wants to believe that everyone who can get the vaccine will get the vaccine,” said Novant Health Dr. David Priest,  “but I don’t think that’s going to happen at this stage.”

Novant Health Dr. David Priest gave a mixed report on Tuesday. Hospitalizations and new case rates remain flat, but vaccinations are slowing.

“I would hope that if people won’t get vaccinated for themselves or their families that they’ll do it to help our collective community get back to normal,” said Dr. Priest.

He says at the current pace, the governor’s goal of easing capacity and distancing restrictions by June 1st could be out of reach. And that more people, who could have been vaccinated, will get Covid and suffer the consequences.

“That’s what’s heartbreaking,” said Dr. Priest, “ those opportunities were there and people didn’t take them.”

Right now, 32% of Americans are fully vaccinated. Thirty percent of North Carolinians are fully vaccinated.

And 28% of South Carolinians are fully vaccinated. The key number for herd immunity is 70 to 80 percent.

“There isn’t a single infection in the history of time that has actually reached herd immunity without a vaccine. So people have to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Purvi Parikh, an Allergist & Immunologist with the Allergy & Asthma Network.

She’s worked with the clinical trials of the vaccines.

“I think Covid is going to be around for the foreseeable future. I don’t think that we’re going to get to a point anytime soon at least where it’s completely eradicated,” said Dr. Parikh.

She says about a third of Americans say they won’t get the shot, which makes herd immunity difficult to

Achieve.

“It’s very frustrating especially when you hear that it was rushed or that its not safe,” said Dr. Parikh.

Especially, she says,  as the virus evolves and mutates.

“The problem is that variants that happen anywhere in the world can end up in our backyard next week. And that’s how this pandemic started,” said Dr. Parikh.

Mecklenburg county health officials are focusing on vaccinating people where they are. Walk up clinics are being set up at Catawba Brewing, Camp North End and Black Food Truck Fridays. The large Bojangles Coliseum venue will be closed on May 22nd.