'No magic target' to reach herd immunity, Walensky says

Biden reiterates goal to vaccinate more Americans by Fourth of July

Dr. Marc Siegel on White House vaccination push: ‘I think you got to get there by convincing people it’s the right thing to do’

While President Joe Biden set a goal to have 70% of Americans receive at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine by July 4, the target doesn’t correlate to the concept of herd immunity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director said Thursday. 

“We know that the more and more people who get one vaccine and then two get fully vaccinated the more we as a nation are protected,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky said, while appearing on NBC’s TODAY. “We know that the vaccine not only protects individuals it protects communities it protects their families — and so the more people who get vaccinated, as we all have talked about, there is no magic target for the herd immunity but we believe that getting to 70% would go an extraordinarily long way to making sure we have community protection.”

On Wednesday, the Biden administration announced a renewed push for vaccination efforts across the U.S. for the month of June in hopes of closing on the president’s goal. Currently, about 63% of adults have already received one shot, leaving about a month to reach an additional 7% in a time when daily vaccination rates are slowing. 

The “national month of action” includes a five-part plan to reach 70% which in part promises easier access and more incentives such as free beer. Select pharmacies will be open 24 hours every Friday night, and many vaccination sites are offering extended hours. Some childcare locations will also be offering “free drop-in” options while parents get vaccinated, and Uber and Lyft will continue offering free rides to sites. The administration is also partnering with barbershops to offer “shots at the shop.” 

Some states have already achieved a 70% rate, but Walensky on Thursday reiterated a concern she stated a day earlier at the 9th annual Atlanta Global Health Summit about the virus being opportunistic. 

“We’re not uniformly at 70%, we have pockets of this country that have lower rates of vaccination,” she told TODAY. “I worry that this virus is an opportunist and where we have low rates of vaccination we may see it again.” 

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