Rutgers epidemiologist Stanley H. Weiss is available to discuss the new goal set by President Biden to get 70 percent of American adults vaccinated with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and having 160 million adults fully vaccinated by July 4 and how this goal impacts herd immunity.
“The new goal set by the President is commendable, as it is necessary for every eligible person to get the COVID-19 vaccine as quickly as possible, even though it won’t be enough to help us get to herd immunity,” said Weiss, an infectious and chronic disease epidemiology expert and professor at the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and the Rutgers School of Public Health. “There will be certain age groups and communities that will have high vaccination rates and thus better protection against the virus and disease. However, it’s those with the low rates that are going to impair more general herd immunity. The are many factors that impact herd immunity issues, some of which we can’t directly control – such as the transmissibility of a viral strain and the ever-changing nature of the virus during pandemic spread. Societal behaviors and the environments are important, and in theory amenable to improvements. More information remains needed about sophisticated immunological issues.”
“Most experts remain hopeful that booster vaccinations may help counter evolving variants of the virus. This might be as simple as an administration of a third shot of the same vaccines already developed, although pharmaceutical companies and immunologists are vigorously exploring new alternatives. Some immunologists suggest caution, as there are examples of other infectious agents where protection was paradoxically lessened. Although it has been hoped to be able to move approval of future vaccines forward more rapidly using surrogate measures, such as tests of immunity, it is possible that clinical trials may still be needed.”
Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS) takes an integrated approach to educating students, providing clinical care and conducting research, all with the goal of improving human health. Aligned with Rutgers University–New Brunswick, and collaborating university-wide, RBHS includes eight schools, a behavioral health network and four centers and institutes. RBHS offers an outstanding education in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, public health, nursing, biomedical research and the full spectrum of allied health careers. RBHS clinical and academic facilities are located throughout the state.