May 4, 2021

How Much of the Population Will Need to Be Vaccinated Until the Pandemic Is Over?

The short answer from an immunity and pulmonary medicine physician

vaccinating the population

Q: How much of the population will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to slow this pandemic?

A: A vaccinated person acts as a barrier to slow and prevent the virus from continuing to spread. The ultimate end goal is to get as many people vaccinated as possible so that more people are protected. The entire population benefits from a high vaccination coverage, especially those who are most at risk and vulnerable.

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Once a population reaches a point of collective immunity where the disease is no longer likely to spread, it reaches the herd immunity threshold. The estimate for COVID-19 is that roughly 70% to 85% of the population will need to be vaccinated to reach the herd immunity threshold, although this will likely be a moving target as we move into different stages of the pandemic. (In contrast, the flu needs between 33% and 44% vaccinated to reach the herd immunity threshold.)

It’s a safer place to live when you have a high vaccination rate and we hope that everyone will take the vaccine when they’re eligible to receive it.

Serpil Erzurum, MD, Chair of the Lerner Research Institute.

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