US hitting COVID-19 herd immunity now unlikely, reports say

Tracking Coronavirus

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — According to reports, experts believe herd immunity is now unlikely in the U.S.  Scientists blame COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and constantly mutating variants.

It’s estimated almost one-third of people do not want the COVID-19 vaccine.

At 14, Leslie Hendrickson was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare disorder in which your body’s immune system attacks your nerves.

“I just kept getting sicker until I completely lost the use of my legs,” Hendrickson said.

Now 60, Hendrickson survived the disorder, but still lives with muscular and neurological issues, fibromyalgia, and more.

She said at the advice of her doctors, she’s never received the flu shot because of Guillain-Barre, and now that goes for the COVID-19 vaccine.

“It’s scary, so I’m kind of between a rock and hard place right now,” Hendrickson said. “My doctor, who works at Truman Medical Center and who has worked on their protocol for COVID, has suggested that I wait until there’s more research done on the vaccine.”

While Hendrickson says her mind has been basically made up for he, around the nation, vaccine appointments are going unfilled.

Vaccine hesitancy was only made worse after the Johnson and Johnson vaccine was temporarily halted.

This, as contagious variants continue to spread.

Dr. Sarah Boyd is an infectious disease physician at Saint Luke’s.

“Vaccine protection can vary with some of those variants, and I think all of that factored together, as well as a larger number of people being hesitant to take the vaccine is making that a much larger percentage that would need to happen in the population to protect everybody,” Boyd said.

Boyd estimates 80-90% of the population would need to be vaccinated for true herd immunity.

That seems unattainable when you consider upwards of 30% of people don’t want the vaccine, and 22% of the population is children.

Dr. Angela Myers, the Infectious Diseases Division Director at Children’s Mercy Hospital, said making sure people continue their preventative measure is more important at this stage than herd immunity.

“I think our focus should on helping people believe in the vaccine, trust that the vaccine is safe, that it’s effective, and meet people where they’re at and hearing their concerns,” Myers said.

Hendrickson hopes we learn more soon since she lives with her 94-year-old mother, and said she has a 20% chance of getting Guillain-Barre syndrome again.

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