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Vaccine hesitancy slowing time-line to herd immunity

COVID-19
Posted at 7:35 PM, May 13, 2021

EL PASO COUNTY — The main bus terminal in Colorado Springs hosted a mobile vaccination clinic Thursday. It is part of the effort to make vaccinations more accessible and encourage more people to get vaccinated.

A worthwhile number of people opted to get immunized. There was also never a line. Evidence of slowing vaccine momentum at a point when it needs to continue at a rapid pace.

National, state, and local leaders want to see 70% of eligible people vaccinated. It is the point where herd immunity can happen. The goal for reaching herd immunity is July 4th.

Some Colorado counties are on track for the goal. Overall, the average percentage is closer to 40% with just over a month and a half until July. "We're following trends not only locally, but at the state and then the national level," said El Paso County Public Health, Medical Director, Dr. Robin Johnson. For those who are immunized, mask and social distancing mandates are easing.

herd immunity by county
Data as of May 14, 2020. The only county that has is above the 70 percent threshold is San Juan County which has 71.8 percent of its population fully vaccinated.

COVID-19 data tracked in El Paso County shows infections, deaths and hospitalizations still happening with significant numbers. It is part of the motivation message for those who are not vaccinated. "We're getting kind of numb to that and we shouldn't,” said Dr. Johnson, “We have 120 people in the hospital for one reason--COVID. If it was any other disease process, I think we would be talking about what are the issues here."

There are some adamantly opposed to getting vaccinated. Changing their mind is unlikely.

It is people who are hesitant or simply unmotivated that health pros want to reach. “The vaccine is minimal to no risk with huge benefit,” said Dr. Johnson, “You get the virus, there’s some significant risk that’s still present.”

The vaccine protects the individual. Dr. Johnson emphasizes that it also protects the broader community. A high number of individuals immunized slows the spread and lowers the risk of the virus mutating. "We will be making progress to truly transform our community back into what would be considered normal for us." If herd immunity is reached it can expedite an end to current prevention measures restricting schools, entertainment, and group gatherings.