LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - With vaccines being slowly distributed in the state and nationally, health experts still encourage social and physical distancing measures.
The key to moving away from the measures is what doctors call herd immunity.
Dr. Victor Test is the chief of pulmonology medicine and critical care at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center and director of Medical Intensive Care Unit at University Medical Center. He said there may be a need to re-think the term.
“It’s really more like herd protection,” Test said.
Herd Immunity means enough people have immunity from a specific disease so it will not spread to vulnerable people.
Many medical experts agree that 75-80% of a community needs immunity before COVID physical distancing measures can be relaxed, he said.
”So, if you’re counting on herd immunity you’re counting on everybody else around you to be immune,” Test said.
There are currently only two proven ways to get that protection: from either getting the virus and naturally recovering, or getting vaccination.
Because the virus is so young, a timetable on when people can step away from mask wearing and physical distancing is hard to pin down.
“Because it is going to take a while to get 80% of the people in the U.S. vaccinated,” Test said.
At the earliest, it is thought herd immunity could possibly be achieved in the U.S. by the fall. But doctors continue to urge people to be patient.
“Because we know several of our friends or people we know have had vaccinations or had the disease and was like, ‘well the chances are less now,’” Test said. “They’re not less now but they eventually will be if we stay on this course.”