Will we reach ‘herd immunity?’ Charlotte experts, county leaders weigh in on vaccination progress

Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 5:21 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - When it comes to vaccines, public and private entities had many goals.

President Joe Biden says he wants 70 percent of Americans to have at least one dose of the vaccine by July 4.

Gov. Roy Cooper called for two-thirds of North Carolinians to be partially vaccinated so we can reach “herd immunity.”

Even public and private partnerships weighed in back in January when Atrium, Honeywell and Tepper sports set the goal of reaching one million people vaccinated through their mass vaccination clinics.

But those deadlines are quickly approaching and many experts say those goals are unattainable at this point.

But will we ever reach “herd immunity?”

Leaders with Mecklenburg County say it’s possible but the challenge is people’s willingness to get it.

They say although things are slower, people are still getting vaccinated. Each vaccination is one person closer to herd immunity.

“We’re getting people vaccinated, just not as many as we’d like to,” said Dr. Meg Sullivan with Mecklenburg County. “It’s definitely challenging sometimes when we set up clinics, there’s a significant amount of work that goes into it, the staff time, and we don’t have the turnout we would like.”

Sullivan is more optimistic that herd immunity can be reached.

She says the county is working tirelessly to get more people vaccinated and make it easier for those to find a way to get to a clinic site.

“We absolutely right now have enough vaccine supply and have the capacity to get it out. So it’s possible,” Dr. Sullivan said. “But it really depends on if people come out to get vaccinated.”

But doctors at Star Med say achieving those goals is becoming more and more unlikely.

“Unfortunately, no, I don’t think we’re going to reach that goal,” said Dr. Arin Piramzadian.

Star Med says they’ve seen some progress with the vaccine incentives like $25 gift cards and chances to win a $1 million-dollar vaccine lottery but they say it hasn’t been enough to make the needed difference in vaccine rates.

Dr. Piramzadian warns that could mean bar variants of COVID-19 in the future.

“Not reaching herd immunity mean there’s enough of the population that are still keeping getting sick so it will keep mutating. That we are going to end up getting a different variant that we can’t stop,” he said.

WBTV reached out to Atrium, Honeywell and Tepper Sports about their goal to reach one million doses by July for an update on their progress.

They have not yet responded.

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