How long will it take to reach herd immunity with the COVID-19 vaccine in Oregon?

When the vaccine does eventually become available for all of us, how long will it take to reach herd immunity?

Herd immunity, or community immunity, is when most of a population is immune to an infectious disease, providing indirect protection such as we have with measles, mumps, polio and chicken pox.

What comes into play when talking about herd immunity is: how effective is the vaccine? We know that Pfizer’s version comes in at 95% effective, whereas Moderna is just over 94%.

Dr. Joe Sullivan, one of Oregon Health Authority’s senior health advisors, says what that data means is less of the population needs to be immunized to reach herd immunity. However, children will not be getting vaccinated to begin with so that removes a large chunk of the population. Sullivan estimates 70% of the adult population in Oregon will need to be vaccinated to reach that herd immunity.

Rex Larsen, OHA’s COVID-19 vaccine planning unit manager says, they know 49% of Oregonians were not sure they wanted to get the vaccine immediately when it became available, so the state health department will be working hard to promote the vaccine using culturally responsive strategies.

“Our goal is really to maintain the commitment of those who are certain to take the vaccine and to work on reaching those about half of people who are not certain, and sort of build their confidence in the vaccine,” said Larsen.

Some of OHA’s communication strategies to the public include using influencers to counter misinformation on social media, working with the governor’s office to launch a major paid media campaign, and empowering medical providers as credible messengers.

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