President Joe Biden’s goal of having 70 percent of American adults vaccinated against the virus that causes COVID-19 by July 4 is not the same as the threshold for herd immunity, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.
“We know that the more and more people who get one vaccine and then two, get fully vaccinated, the more we as a nation are protected,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director, said during an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show.
“We know that the vaccine not only protects individuals, it protects communities, it protects their families, and so the more people who get vaccinated—as we all have talked about, there is no magic target for the herd immunity—but we believe that getting to 70 percent would go an extraordinarily long way to making sure we have community protection,” she added.
Herd immunity refers to reaching immunity in a percent of a certain population. Immunity can be achieved through vaccination or through prior illness. The level of herd immunity that would largely stop the spread of the CCP virus is not known.
About 62 percent of American adults have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose as of Wednesday morning. Thousands of others have recovered from COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
Biden on Wednesday announced a renewed push to reach his goal of 70 percent of adults being vaccinated.
Asked about the 70 percent figure on CBS’ “This Morning,” Walensky said the administration wants to get most Americans vaccinated.
“And after we get to 70 percent, my goal is going to be to get to 80 percent. I think what we really understand is that this virus is an opportunist and it will go to places where people are not vaccinated,” she said.
“And so you are safe if you’re vaccinated, you are not safe if you are not vaccinated and my job is to keep America safe. So we will work to get to 70 percent on [July] 4, and then we will continue to work to get beyond that.”
A growing body of research suggests that people who are not vaccinated but who have recovered from COVID-19 retain immunity against the CCP virus. One study, for instance, showed that people who have recovered from a mild case of COVID-19 have long-lived plasma cells in their bone marrow that secretes low levels of antibodies to the virus, possibly for a lifetime.
Federal officials like Walensky have urged people to get vaccinated even if they previously had COVID-19. Some critics, though, have said they don’t see the need to get a jab if they had the illness and recovered.
“I’ve already had the disease, and I have natural immunity,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a doctor, said last month.
The CDC says on its website, says that “if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible—although rare—that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again.”