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Can We Reach Herd Immunity? By: Evelyn Burt

2020 and 2021 have been unforgettable. Each and every life has changed, however, our only option was persistence. In recent months, with the development and distribution of Covid-19 vaccinations, society is nearing “normal.” Currently, in the United States of America, there are around 23,000 active cases a day and 500 deaths a day. In comparison to January of 2020 with 402,270 cases and 5,117 deaths each day, there has been a visible progression in decreasing the infection and mortality rates caused by Covid-19. The Sars-CoV-2 vaccination development is largely responsible for this progress as about 40% of the American population, 130 million citizens, are fully vaccinated and about 50% have received at least one dose. If the United States continues to vaccinate its people, covid rates will continue to decrease and normalcy will emerge back into our lives.

Our goal as a country and world is to reach herd immunity. Scientists believe herd immunity entails around 60-70% of the American population being vaccinated. Many experts believed that this was possible through vaccinations, however, this belief has become less and less likely as they become less and less sure. Vaccination rates are slowing down and only 40% of American citizens are fully vaccinated. Additionally, new and more contagious variants of the virus require immunity rates to increase to 80% in order to reach herd immunity. Further, even if 80% of the United States population is vaccinated, it will not be vaccinated evenly meaning there could be cities with 99% vaccination rates and those with only 20%. Uneven distribution means continuous spread and death of cities with lower vaccination rates— it is impossible to state that, as an entire country, we will reach herd immunity. Scientists believe that Covid-19 will be part of our society in the future. In similarity to the yearly flu, the Coronavirus will continue to infect and kill people, just at a lower rate and, therefore, less dangerous. Instead of full trust in reviving the normal of society before the Coronavirus, it is important to begin shifting our mindset to accept its eternal longevity.

Despite the challenges of reaching herd immunity, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, relaxed many of the masking policies about 2 weeks ago for fully vaccinated people: “You can resume activities without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.” The responsibility of enforcing mandates has shifted from businesses and regulators to individuals. Many wonder if we can trust people to be responsible enough to wear masks if they are not fully vaccinated. The response is generally little to no trust in these people. For example, due to businesses’ trust in people, many continue to require masks for service.

For the past two years, our lives have been revolving around inevitable change. Although Covid-19 infection and death rates are decreasing, this journey is not complete. In fact, it may never end. Through the Coronavirus’ challenges, people all around the world have learned the life lesson of flexibility to change. In all of the darkness brought upon us, the developments of flexibility and persistence in our population can be the light.

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