Building Herd Immunity One Shot at a Time

Vaccine supply now outpaces demand, which is a far cry from where we were just six weeks ago.  The challenge now is to build confidence in those who remain unvaccinated, but are eligible for a vaccine, and convince them to get the shot.  It’s the only way to herd immunity and near normalcy in our personal and professional lives.  Herd immunity is reached when about 70 to 80 percent of the population is vaccinated or have immunity due to exposure, according to the National Institutes of Health infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Vaccine Hesitancy

Research tells us that people are “vaccine hesitant” for many reasons, not the least of which is a lack of solid understanding about how the COVID vaccine works.  That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health, and other public health resources offer simple explanations about these vaccines, which truly are wonders of modern medicine.  I have heard some clever analogies to explain the mechanics of the process, including likening it to that of a piece of furniture that is delivered in a box.  Inside the box are instructions that explain how to assemble the item.  Once the item is assembled, those instructions are no longer needed.  Such is the case with the COVID vaccine.  Once the vaccine enters the body and transmits its instructions, the immune system response to that particular virus is assembled.  Immunity and protection are achieved.

The National COVID Collaborative and the Ad Council delved into vaccine hesitancy psychology in preparation for the release of its public campaign – It’s Up to You – which by the way it is.  Not surprisingly, they found that knowledge eases a person’s fear of the unknown about the vaccines.  With that knowledge, vaccine hesitancy fades away.

Helping Individuals Choose Vaccination

Regions are experimenting with a variety of incentives to entice people to get the vaccine.  In New York, a vaccine gets you a transit ticket.  In Ohio, you could win the vaccine lotto.  Still, the most important reason for getting the vaccine – that it prevents severe disease and death – is the most compelling motivator for choosing vaccination. 

This is why hospital personnel and public health officials are holding pop up vaccination sites at neighborhood churches, at fire houses and civic centers, at barber shops and salons, and at local food pantries.  Targeted efforts are bringing the vaccine to the homebound and homeless populations.   A growing number of physicians are offering it in their offices.  Many people are more comfortable talking to their trusted doctor first before choosing vaccination.

With the approval of the Pfizer vaccine for those 12 years of age and older, local school districts are now working with local hospitals, county health departments, and community physician practices to bring vaccines to adolescents. 

Finally, the CDC announced on May 13, 2021 that vaccinated individuals could unmask indoors or outdoors, with few exceptions.  Another forceful reason for choosing vaccination. 

The Suburban Hospital Alliance of New York State is committed to working with our region’s hospitals and public health officials in this final push to reach herd immunity.  Our “Have You Herd” campaign is all about educating the public about the importance of vaccination and everyone’s responsibility to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their community. 

About the Suburban Hospital Alliance of New York State

The Suburban Hospital Alliance of New York State advocates on behalf of hospitals in the Hudson Valley and Long Island regions. It engages key lawmakers and regulatory decision-makers in Albany and Washington to ensure reasonable and rational health care policy prevails.

About the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council (NSHC)   

The Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council represents the not-for-profit and public hospitals on Long Island. It works in conjunction with the Suburban Hospital Alliance of New York State to advance legislative and regulatory priorities.  NSHC serves as the local and collective voice of hospitals on Long Island.

About the Northern Metropolitan Hospital Association (NorMet)  

The Northern Metropolitan Hospital Association represents the not-for-profit and public hospitals in the Hudson Valley region. It works in conjunction with the Suburban Hospital Alliance of New York State to advance legislative and regulatory priorities.  NorMet serves as the local and collective voice of hospitals in the Hudson Valley.

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