Trust Index: Will US be ‘well on our way’ to herd immunity by summer?

News4Jax Consumer Investigator Lauren Verno put the president's claims on "herd immunity" through the trust index.

President Joe Biden announced he’s ramping up COVID-19 vaccine allocation and distribution, including the purchase of 200 million more vaccine doses next week.

The president said that with those additional doses, there will be enough to fully vaccinate 300 million Americans by the end of summer. This week, the president also said that by summer, the United States should be “well on our way to heading toward herd immunity.”

News4Jax put those claims to the Trust Index.

The question is not only will there be enough shots available and vaccine sites up and running by spring, but will there be enough people willing to get the vaccine for herd immunity?

The number of people who need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity differs for each virus. Dr. Frank Esper, with the Cleaveland Clinic Children’s, says that although scientists are trying to determine an exact number for the coronavirus, most medical experts say 70-90% of the population will need to get the vaccine for herd immunity.

“As more and more people get that immunity, the spread of the virus is going to slow and slow,” Esper said. “Eventually, we hope that it’s going to get to the point where we get this herd immunity.”

Dr. Sunil Joshi, president of Duval County Medical Society Foundation, says it’s going to be a daunting task to get those numbers.

“We’ve vaccinated about 23-24 million people so far, and to get to 70% of our population, that would mean we need to vaccinate a total of about 240 million people,” Joshi said.

And with summer about five months away, Joshi said: “You would have to vaccinate 1.25-1.5 million people a day to get there.”

In President Biden’s updated vaccine timeline, his goal is to vaccinate 1.5 million people a day. Last week, 1.25 million people were vaccinated. But Joshi warns there’s still a long way to go.

“I am concerned. I don’t know how realistic it is to say that by the first day of summer, we’re going to reach that 70% vaccination number,” Joshi said. “But we certainly have the opportunity to get very close to it and, by the middle of summer, hopefully, get there -- as long as the supply is available, and I think that is the biggest issue.”

On the Trust Index, we are going to mark this as true.

Biden’s statement is true that if everything goes according to his plan, the country can be well on the way to herd immunity. But there are a lot of moving parts to that statement because, even if there are enough supplies and ways to vaccinate that many people a day, if a large enough percentage of the people choose not to get the shot, then we will not reach herd immunity as quickly.

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About the Author:

Lauren Verno anchors the 9 a.m. hour of The Morning Show and is the consumer investigative reporter weekday afternoons.