COVID-19: Central Texas is nowhere near herd immunity as pace of vaccination slows
(KWTX) – Health experts are beginning to concede that herd immunity may be unachievable here and around the U.S. unless substantially more people get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“What that means for us is that there is a higher probability of more new variants emerging that could be problematic. There is also a higher probability of further outbreaks,” Bell County Health District Director Dr. Amanda Robison-Chadwell said Tuesday.
“Those who are generally concerned about COVID-19 infection will need to take extra care to include social distancing, masking, and strict adherence to hand hygiene,” she said.
“We may see COVID-19 infections in the community coming in waves.”
“I expect that those who have not been vaccinated will be discouraged from participating in large gatherings,” she said.
“I do expect that CDC mask recommendations to stick around for some time.”
About 70% of the population must be fully vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.
But percentage of fully vaccinated residents 80 and older remains below 60% in all 16 of the Central Texas counties KWTX is monitoring, and the percentage of fully vaccinated residents 65 to 79 is below 60% in all but three of the 16 counties.
According to Department of State Health Services data, 63.6% of Hamilton County residents from 65 to 79, 62.1% of McLennan County residents 65 to 79 and 62.4% of Navarro County residents 65 to 79 are fully vaccinated.
Just more than 53% of residents 80 and older in the 16 counties are fully vaccinated; about 56% of residents 65 to 79 are fully vaccinated; 34% of residents 50 to 64 are fully vaccinated, and only 13% of residents 16 to 49 fully vaccinated.
Vaccine supplies are plentiful.
But the demand for the vaccine is flagging.
“It was very surprising,” Bell County spokesman James Stafford said.
“It went from one day having people driving to Bell County from Abilene to, in a few days, talking to people who weren’t really interested in driving across town,” he said.
County health officials are trying to come up with strategies to get the unvaccinated vaccinated.
“We have about 20 trained ambassadors right now that can answer commonly asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine,” Waco-McLennan County Health District Director LaShonda Malrey-Horne said.
“We want to try to work with local barbers and hair stylists so they understand how safe this vaccine is so they can pass it on,” she said.
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