ROCHESTER, Minn. - While almost 40 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, we still have a lot more to go until we reach herd immunity.
Herd immunity is when enough of the population is vaccinated that it protects the unvaccinated people. Right now, the U.S. is at 10% of the population vaccinated and 70% is needed for herd immunity. Freeborn County's public health director, Sue Yost, has concerns as people seem to be sick of the restrictions. "They're not wanting to wear their masks as often," said Yost. "People are getting more lax on making sure that they're washing their hands and they're doing their social distancing. They're doing more family gatherings, more going to restaurants, more things are opening up. So more people are getting sick because things are opening up."
Yost explained not enough vaccines and people not masking up are what's standing in the way of us reaching herd immunity. While she believes we will one day get there, she's not sure what the future looks like. "I'm not sure that we'll ever totally go back to normal. We saw this year with very low cases of flu, so we know that masking does help," said Yost. "So it may be that we're strongly encouraged to during flu seasons continue to do masking and stuff. I don't know that we'll ever go back to normal again."
Yost said the next steps are learning how long people are immune for after they've received the vaccine. Getting an annual shot might be an option because of the new variants that keep coming out. While vaccines are rolling out every day, getting tested for COVID-19 remains the number one tool at slowing the spread of the virus.