Once Vaccine is Available, How Long Till We Reach ‘Herd Immunity'?

It’ll most likely be several months until the COVID-19 vaccine is available to most Americans. But once it is, how long will it take for life to get back to pre-pandemic normal? 

The answer isn’t simple. The COVID-19 vaccine won’t be 100% effective and not everyone who gets vaccinated will be protected, if they’ve got underlying health conditions.

But health experts do have an idea of roughly how many people in the United States need to get the vaccine in order to for there to be “herd immunity.”

This is where the virus can spread but not like it does during a pandemic because most people have gotten the vaccine.

Dr. Dean Winslow, who is a professor of medicine at Stanford and also an infectious disease specialist, said when he predicts health officials will start feeling more comfortable and safe with people doing their normal activities again. 

“The first, quick answer is, probably between 60 and 70% of the population needs to be immune to COVID-19 before we have, what’s popularly known as ‘herd immunity,’” he said. “However, having said that, again, understand that it may be the mid to latter part of 2021 before we have enough vaccine available in the us to really immunize that large of a percentage of the population.” 

Winslow explains that even after you get immunized, you should still continue to wear face coverings, maintain social distance, limit things like travel and indoor dining because it does take at least two weeks after getting a second dose of the COVID vaccine for it to work.

This may be something we’re living with for at least another year, if not longer.

This post was originally published on NBC Bay Area

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