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State health officer updates lawmakers on herd immunity in Alabama

Updated: May. 5, 2021 at 7:04 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said Alabama could reach herd immunity in a couple of months if there is not a significant drop in vaccination rates.

Harris briefed House lawmakers Wednesday on the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Herd immunity just means that we have enough immunity in the population so that if you get a case of COVID, it’s not likely to spread to somebody else,” Harris said.

About 30% of Alabamians may already be immune because they’ve contracted COVID-19, according to Harris. He added about 31% of eligible Alabamians are fully vaccinated.

Harris said Alabama could reach herd immunity by the summer depending on several factors. It depends on whether the state has the same level of vaccination as April and whether different variants continue to spread.

The state is still trying to figure out what percentage of the population is needed to reach herd immunity, Harris said. They are still waiting for information to know how many months antibodies last from infection.

“Someday we’re going to hopefully get to the point where we stop seeing disease transmission going on,” Harris said. “So as we reach herd immunity, we certainly don’t think and certainly hope we will never see nursing home outbreaks or the things that we had before.”

Harris said it is possible people may need to get the COVID-19 vaccine every year like they do the flu shot.

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