Will the U.S. reach herd immunity against COVID-19?

A medical expert explains if the U.S. will reach herd immunity.

Video Transcript

ERIC RESENDIZ: Officials continue to loosen COVID health restrictions and expand a vaccine eligibility. But when will the US reach herd immunity? Or will we ever reach it? Here in Los Angeles County, health officials say the region could reach herd immunity by this summer. But what is herd immunity? Here's what Dr. Elizabeth Hudson at Kaiser Permanente had to say.

ELIZABETH HUDSON: The simplest way to sort of think of this as herd immunity is when enough people have protection against a particular infection. That protection can come from a vaccine or from natural infection. And enough people have protection so that that infection stops spreading.

ERIC RESENDIZ: Will the US reach herd immunity? And if yes, when?

ELIZABETH HUDSON: That's an excellent question. There are many people who think differently about it. If you talk to Dr. Fauci, the thought is if we get closer to maybe 75% or 80% of people having some form of immunity against COVID that potentially we might reach it. Others are not as sure about that.

ERIC RESENDIZ: With the expansion of the eligibility of the Pfizer vaccine to kids ages 12 to 15, Los Angeles County health officials say the region could reach herd immunity by this summer. Here's why.

ELIZABETH HUDSON: Interestingly enough though for Los Angeles, we may reach herd immunity here. And that is because of the excellent job that everyone has been doing in terms of getting vaccinated. And also it is a reflection of how hard hit we were in the fall and winter. So many people have natural immunity to COVID because of that. So between those two factors. It's possible that we could reach herd immunity here in Los Angeles. But the only way that's going to happen is if everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated does so.

ERIC RESENDIZ: But will the COVID-19 virus ever go away?

ELIZABETH HUDSON: There are some who feel that the virus may end up sort of being in the background, something that we have to deal with on a yearly basis kind of like we do with flu. And I think that that's probably correct. I think probably this is something that will be here for the foreseeable future. However, if we can get more people vaccinated and reach that state where there's just not any virus circulating, hopefully then we would get to a point where we no longer have to think about COVID. And that would be a great day.