San Francisco may have become the first major American city to strike herd immunity against the coronavirus, experts say.
San Francisco still registers a small number of coronavirus cases, about 13.7 a day, said Dr. George Rutherford, a professor of epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco, but does not appear to be gaining enough support among the population to trigger wider outbreaks.
“This is what herd immunity looks like,”
Healthcare professionals still disagree on what percentage of the population should be immunized against Covid-19 to achieve the vaunted status of “herd immunity” when so many people have antibodies to the virus that it can no longer spread widely in the community. .
During the pandemic, vaccination targets to strike herd immunity were a moving goal, a Yale Medical School briefing said, with experts initially estimating that the virus would have difficulty spreading if 60 to 70 percent of the population was immunized. With several options in circulation, some of which are more contagious, ratings are rising. Many experts now estimate that herd immunity will be achieved when 80 to 90% of the population has been vaccinated.
San Francisco is close to that goal. Nearly 80 percent of San Francisco residents eligible for the coronavirus vaccine received at least one shot, according to the city’s health department, and 68 percent were fully vaccinated. Among the general population, Asians and Pacific Islanders have even higher vaccination rates than the city average, statistics show, while the black population lags behind by about 16 percentage points.
Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an associate dean at UCSF who specializes in infectious diseases, believes that when you consider those who have been immune to coronavirus, San Francisco already has enough people with antibodies to achieve herd immunity. . But he said the virus would probably never disappear completely in the United States.
“I hope people still go out and get vaccinated, not rest on their laurels,” he said. The virus will always be something to think about.
San Francisco has several advantages in its pursuit of herd immunity, Rutherford said. The city has a small number of children in the population compared to other places, which makes a higher percentage of its inhabitants eligible for the vaccine. Its population is enthusiastic about following Covid’s safety precautions and seeking the vaccine. And it has a compact geography, with a dense community crammed into 47 square miles, allowing teams of health workers to go door-to-door to reach prisons and others who may have problems with vaccination.
“San Francisco has developed a national model for the equitable distribution of vaccines,” said Mary Ellen Carroll, director of emergency management in San Francisco, in a statement announcing the program last month. “Receiving a door-to-door vaccine and providing this life-saving measure to the elderly and people with disabilities will help push San Francisco through the last mile of our vaccine program.”
Chin-Hong noted that the city’s history has been at the forefront of the fight against the AIDS virus, and may have created confidence in health measures that are lacking in other regions.
“San Francisco has this long history of openness and integrating academia and public health with its community and politics,” he said. “Northern California is very pro-vaccinated and wearing masks is popular here.”
A handful of counties in the country have even higher levels of full vaccination than San Francisco. These include Hamilton County, New York, where 75% of eligible residents are fully vaccinated, according to an analysis of data maintained by the New York Times. But there is no big city in any of these counties.
The state of California, which is preparing to reopen and remove most of its restrictions on Covid on June 15, lags slightly behind the vaccination level in San Francisco, with about 58% of its population receiving a single dose of the vaccine, according to Los Angeles statistics. Times. The state is among the highest levels of vaccination in the country, but still lags behind 11 states, including Vermont, Massachusetts and Hawaii.
However, Chin-Hong said that the fact that California also had a large outbreak of Covid-19 in the winter means that the number of immune residents in the state is particularly high.
“California is something like Covid’s protected house in the United States right now,” he said. “When you look at the burden of disease, it’s one of the safest places.”