Experts Believe Some Pockets Of San Francisco Bay Area May Already Have Herd Immunity
JULIETTE GOODRICH: On the Road to Recovery. Tonight, some local infectious disease experts believe some pockets of Bay Area have already reached so-called "herd immunity." While national herd immunity may be elusive, they say regional herd immunity is attainable in the Bay Area. KPIX 5's Da Lin is live in Emeryville with more on that story. Da.
DA LIN: Juliette, here in Alameda County, more than half, 55%, of the people 16 and older have been fully vaccinated across the Bay in San Francisco. That percentage is even higher. That's why medical experts believe the Bay Area could achieve herd immunity sometime this summer.
Doctors say immunity can come from vaccination or natural infection, meaning people who have the antibodies after getting COVID. So if you look at San Quentin, which was hit hard by the coronavirus, it has a high vaccination rate. Dr. Peter Chin-Hong believes this day present has already reached herd immunity. And there are other similar immunity pockets in the Bay Area.
PETER CHIN-HONG: Almost herd immunity is in a nursing home population, because that-- Again, across the country is pretty high above 70%, in the Bay Area, it's above 80%.
DA LIN: The UCSF infectious disease specialist says the Bay Area is getting closer to a regional herd immunity, the point at which so many people have antibodies that a virus stops spreading. All the numbers suggest San Francisco is leading the pack. The city says 75% of San Franciscans over 16 years old have received at least one dose of vaccine.
PETER CHIN-HONG: Until we get global herd immunity, regional herd immunity may be just transient and fleeting, depending on circumstances.
DA LIN: But most doctors admit global herd immunity is still a few years out because of the new variant, vaccine hesitancy, and vaccine equity. In the Bay Area, the biggest challenge is vaccine hesitancy
WILLIAM LUCKETT: I haven't been vaccinated because there hasn't been enough tests, and I kind of feel like I don't want to be one of the guinea pigs.
DA LIN: Those who refused to get the shot tell me they don't trust the science.
VERNON LEWIS: I don't have trust in the systems like that, because everybody you put your trust in lets you down.
JULIETTE GOODRICH: So Da, you know, some people are getting vaccinated. Others, as we heard, are very hesitant. Do doctors think we can eventually eliminate COVID-19? Not to get too ahead of ourselves, but what are they saying?
DA LIN: Right. Doctors say herd immunity is very different from disease elimination. They say it's unlikely we'll get rid of COVID-19, but with time, we'll have a cure and, perhaps, do a better job of managing this disease.