OU top doctor: Focus on vaccinating all Oklahomans, not on reaching “herd immunity”

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – One of Oklahoma’s top doctors says the concept of herd immunity is an “elusive” goal to shoot for, and just reaching a certain number won’t necessarily afford the safety everyone hopes.

Herd immunity is a term doctors and state and national leaders have talked about since the beginning of the pandemic. It’s the ideal percentage of people immune to the virus needed to keep infections at bay.

“If we got to 80% or 85% of Oklahomans vaccinated, we might be considered to have achieved herd immunity,” said OU’s Chief COVID Officer, Dr. Dale Bratzler.

But right now, only one-third of all Oklahomans are fully vaccinated, and only 40% have gotten their first dose, many failing to show up for their second.

But the number of people who are signing up to get vaccinated has fallen by more than 80% since its peak.

An OU epidemiologist predicted that at this rate, over the next three months, Oklahoma will be 300,000 people short of reaching even the 70% threshold for herd immunity, according to Tulsa World.

“We need to do everything we can do to promote vaccine for all people in Oklahoma,” Dr. Bratzler said, “not worried necessarily about a specific number.”

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That’s because even if that 70% was reached, Dr. Bratzler pointed out that some areas of Oklahoma are, and likely would be much more vaccinated than others.

“If the whole state was at 85%, sure, I would feel quite comfortable,” Dr. Bratzler said, “but the reality is there are parts of the state that are probably near 90% and there are parts of the state that are near 20%.”

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