This math is sobering:
COVID-19 Cases 1/11/2021: 22,429,685 COVID-19 Deaths 1/11/2021: 374,521 Percent of Cases resulting in death 1.67% US Population: 330,808,016 70% of US Population, the population that would need to be infected to reach natural Herd Immunity: 231,565,611 Number of possible COVID-19 deaths through natural Herd Immunity: 3,866,581
Four million lives is equal to the combined total population of South Dakota, North Dakota, Alaska, District of Columbia, Vermont, and Wyoming. Or all of Los Angeles. Or all of Chicago.
The math is sobering, horrifying, and unfathomable. But also eminently avoidable. Herd immunity through vaccination MUST be a national priority for 2021.
The U.S. now has two highly-efficacious vaccines available, with additional vaccines likely to arrive before spring. The immediate task before us is to vaccinate 70 percent of the population.
Unfortunately, we know from past experience that only 40 percent of the population receives the annual flu vaccination. Even during the H1N1 pandemic in 2009/2010, only 41% of the population opted to be vaccinated.
How do we focus efforts? It would be simple to say “everyone, everywhere” but that is neither practical nor efficient. The public health infrastructure required for this massive undertaking is very different in urban Chicago compared to rural Appalachia. The historical influenza vaccination rates for those areas also vary widely.
HealthLandscape has created a “Community of Immunity” Vaccination Deficit Explorer that features county-level estimates of annual influenza vaccination rates and potential COVID-19 vaccination deficit rates. These rates can be filtered by the Community PPE Index, a new measure of public health readiness, to show the potential mismatch between vaccination shortfalls and the public health infrastructure necessary to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.