Herd immunity slows COVID-19 spread

Could the COVID-19 pandemic be coming to an end?


Daniel Laubhan

Here is the mass vaccination site located at the Lake County Fairgrounds. They have been providing the COVID-19 vaccine for people since Jan. 18. (Photo provided by Daniel Laubhan).

Caden Moe, Opinion Editor

Throughout the past year, most of our collective lives have been mostly influenced by COVID-19. A pandemic we thought we could deal with in a couple of months at most has dragged out for over a year. However, with the vaccines rolling out at a relatively quick pace, the question we are asking now more than ever is: Will the pandemic end soon?

The most common phrase associated with the end of a pandemic is “herd immunity”. This is the idea that the more people develop immunity to a virus, the safer everybody around them is. 

“For the pandemic to be over, you would have to have a good percentage of the population vaccinated,” said school nurse Julie Szymczak. “But you would also have to see the rate of hospitalizations and infections go down to a small percentage.”

The vaccines have been judged as being 95% effective, and with minimal negative side effects.

“I was able to go through it without any negative side effects at all,” said special education teacher Steve Reitman. “I had some minor arm soreness, but other than that, I was very fortunate”.

As of April 6, about 62.3 million Americans have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19. It is also known that around 30 million have tested positive for it in the past, and thus, their body has built up antibodies. Even with there being some overlap, this would mean around 25% of the population has some protection from the virus. The number is likely even higher, as a good number of people have had COVID-19, but never took a test.

The United States is definitely gaining herd immunity, but this obviously does not act instantly. While infection rates in the US are slowing, there are still tens of thousands of new infections a day. For this reason, people must continue to follow social distancing protocols despite the progress made in ending the virus.

“We still need to wear our masks, wash our hands, and watch our distance,” said Szymczak. “In Florida, numbers are going up because they had a lot of people down there close together, throwing parties, and not wearing masks.”

Still, many are eager to get back to normal life after so long in quarantine. For this reason, it is important to find out when and how you can get your vaccine.

“At this point, people over the age of 16 can get vaccinated depending on what their particular job is,” said Reitman. “For example, my son and daughter are camp counselors this summer, so they can get vaccinated because they will be working with kids”.

While there is no definitive answer to the question of when the pandemic will end, it is certainly starting to look more hopeful than it was a while ago. As long as we remain safe and cautious, we can see the return to normal life.