How close is San Francisco to herd immunity against COVID-19?


SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – Not everyone is wearing a mask in San Francisco these days, due in part to the success the city has had against COVID-19.

Hospitalizations are way down, as are cases, and the city is entering the yellow reopening tier this week.

So you may be wondering, how close is San Francisco to herd immunity?

“The concept of herd immunity is the proportion of the population who is immune either from getting sick or the vaccine is so high that the virus can’t find the next susceptible host and that provides population-level immunity,” said UCSF Epidemiology professor Dr. George Rutherford.

“We still have some ways to go, and we want to make sure there are not pockets of places of communities or age groups that have not gotten vaccinated that are very vulnerable to the disease,” Sf Deputy Public Health Director Dr. Naveena Bobba said.

Right now 73% of those eligible have been vaccinated in San Francisco, but herd immunity is typically 70 to 85% of the entire population.

That will require a continued push to get the vaccine to those with limited access, those who are vaccine-hesitant, and eventually younger people who are not yet eligible.

“I could see San Francisco getting to something that looks like herd immunity in terms of declining transmission in the next month or two,” Dr. Rutherford said.

As for why San Francisco and the greater Bay Area have seen such success, medical experts point to the willingness to social distance, mask, and get vaccinated.

“People in the Bay Area do better than those no pharmaceutical interventions and that plus the vaccination puts us in a position that we are in right now,” UC Berkeley infectious disease specialist Dr. John Swartzberg said.

Of course, there are no guarantees.

It all depends on the virus and people’s behavior, but medical experts agree, San Francisco and the Bay Area as a whole are better positioned towards herd immunity than much of the rest of the country.

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