Health officer weighs in on when Orange County may reach herd immunity for COVID-19

All through the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, we’ve heard a lot of talk about herd immunity.

But what does it mean and how soon could it be achieved in Orange County?

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Here’s what experts tell us:

What is herd immunity?

Say you have a group of 10 people. Herd immunity occurs when enough people in that group become immune to make the virus spread unlikely.

In the case of COVID-19, health leaders say 79%, or roughly 8 out of those 10 people, need to be vaccinated. If that happens, the entire group is likely protected even if they’re not immune.

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How close is Orange County right now to herd immunity?

Health officer Dr. Raul Pino said 8.7% of Orange County is currently vaccinated against COVID-19.

But among the county’s senior population, that number is 50%.

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How soon could the county reach herd immunity?

“So, 79% is going to take us a while,” Pino said. “But we will get there. We’ll get there at some point after the summer probably.”

So hopefully, that means by August or so, we’ll be able to get back to our normal lives.

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Will we need to wear masks until herd immunity is reached?

Ultimately, that will be up to Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings. But Pino said he believes we might be able to start ditching the masks when we get to around 50% or so.

He said when that happens, his team will reassess and let us know.

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.