Achieving ‘herd immunity’ unlikely in US, experts say

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Skepticism about vaccines among many Americans and lack of access among certain groups – the homeless, migrant workers, or certain communities of color – make it difficult to achieve this goal. Vaccination warrants would only worsen this position, some experts believe.

A better approach would be for a trusted character to tackle the root cause of the reluctance – fear, mistrust, misconceptions, ease of access, or a desire for more information, said Mary Politi, expert in advocacy. decision-making in health and health communication at the University of Washington. in Saint-Louis.

People often need to see other members of their social circle kiss something before they want to try it, Dr Politi said. Focusing on the life benefits of vaccination, such as seeing a family member or sending their children to school, might be more motivating than the nebulous idea of ​​herd immunity.

“It would resonate more with people than this somewhat elusive concept that experts are still trying to figure out,” she added.

Although children spread the virus less effectively than adults, experts all agreed that vaccinating children would also be important in keeping the number of Covid cases low. In the long term, the public health system will also need to consider babies, children and adults who are aging in a higher risk group.

Unshakeable scenarios remain in the way of this long-term vision.

Over time, if there are not enough protected people, highly contagious variants can develop that can break vaccine protection, send people to hospital and put them at risk of death.

“It’s the nightmare scenario,” said Jeffrey Shaman, an epidemiologist at Columbia University.

The frequency and severity of these breakthrough infections have the potential to determine whether the United States can keep hospitalizations and deaths low or whether the country will find itself in a “wild ride” every two years, he said. -he declares.

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