Public Health, doctors explain what could help us reach herd immunity as vaccination rates slow

MADISON, Wis. — After a year of sharing tragic numbers, Public Health Madison & Dane County Director Janel Heinrich was enthusiastic about how far we’ve come.

“Fife hundred forty eight thousand one hundred fifty five doses have been administered to Dane County residents,” Heinrich said. “Sixty point five percent of our county has received at least one dose and 46.5% of Dane County residents are now fully vaccinated.”

Although those numbers may seem like a lot, health experts are still hoping that more people sign up to get their vaccine.

“The goal of all of this is to protect the most vulnerable populations,” said UW Health’s Dr. Bill Hartman. “Make sure that people with co-morbidities under the age of 60 get vaccinated as well.”

Hartman said if we never reach herd immunity, making sure the most vulnerable populations are vaccinated will be the most important thing.

Next week, Heinrich said she expects the FDA to authorize emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine to kids age 12-16. If and when that happens, Heinrich said, “This means 25,000-30,000 more people in our county will become eligible for vaccination and it will help us get closer to herd immunity.”

Heinrich and Hartman are hopeful that if that happens, most parents will be on board with getting their kids vaccinated as soon as possible.

“By vaccinating and protecting those kids, we are going to be protecting society as a whole,” Hartman said.

For any parents who aren’t sure if they should get their kids vaccinated, Hartman encourages you to ask your child’s doctor any questions you may have to help put you at ease, getting us that much closer to the possibility of herd immunity.

“There’s always going to be some degree of hesitancy but as we move on and try to get out of this pandemic, it is going to be incumbent on everybody to do their part as much as they can,” Hartman said. “Realize they are safe, effective vaccines that I give to my children. Hopefully they will give it to their children as well.”