According to numerous health experts, this week San Francisco is likely to be the first major US city to achieve herd immunity by the end of this month.
San Francisco County health officials have found that 79% of San Franciscans ages 12 and older received at least one dose, with 68% of San Franciscans ages 12 and older being fully vaccinated. The California Department of Health has estimated the total number of doses administered in San Francisco County at just over 1.1 million, backing up the San Francisco numbers.
Herd immunity is generally around 75% of the population, with the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and chief medical adviser to the President Dr. Anthony Fauci recently set the vaccination percentage at 70-75%.
With vaccination numbers so close, experts have determined that herd immunity will soon be coming to the City by the Bay.
“I would say it’s pretty close,” said UCSF epidemiologist Dr. George Rutherford on Monday. “San Francisco is about three weeks away.”
San Francisco was unusually quick in vaccinating residents, hitting the 20 percent mark by March 1 if 16-year-olds were given at least one dose, then breaking experts’ estimates week after week over the course of the spring .
“There is no other city that has as many first-dose vaccinations, even in places that were vaccinated faster than us,” noted UCSF Dr. Monica Gandhi.
Other experts even noted that, against the national trend and the surge in vaccination of residents, San Francisco was an anomaly compared to other cities around the world.
“We have small cities in places like New England and West Virginia that are fully vaccinated, but larger cities in these areas like Boston or Hartford are only about 60% fully vaccinated now,” says Horace Clark, a COVID-19 researcher , who keeps track of vaccination rates in urban areas in the US that were announced to the Globe on Tuesday. “And then vaccinations in cities in the US will drop to 50%. 40%. 30%. Then, when we reach California, things go uphill again. Los Angeles and San Diego go over 50%, and then you get to the Bay Area and San Francisco, where they outperform east coast cities that just a few months ago shook their heads at California as the epicenter of the pandemic. “
The success of San Francisco is likely to pave the way to herd immunity in other areas as well, but due to the decline in the number of fully vaccinated and first doses, California will not become either the California reopening date on June 15 or California’s original July 15 herd immunity target to reach .
San Francisco is slated to achieve herd immunity by the end of June, and all of California by mid-September
With only 53.3% of the state’s total population now fully vaccinated and 11.9% only partially vaccinated, California is now likely to achieve herd immunity by the end of summer in September.
“I think, in practical terms, we are now approaching the formal definition of 75% of people vaccinated, including children, and I think it will take longer towards the end of summer,” said Dr. Rutherford. “If this pace continues, California is likely to reach full herd immunity by mid-September.”
“I agree that we get there,” added Dr. Gandhi added.
While many health experts are already suggesting that statewide herd immunity is unlikely to occur because aversion to the vaccine is higher in many places outside of California, some are hoping that San Francisco, and later California, could help reach the 75% vaccine mark that brings that Land around.
“California is the first country in the whole country and is really influencing other states to follow suit,” remarked Clark. “It can influence other states to suit them. God knows they have done this countless times. Many hope that this will be the case, but we are not holding our breath. “
For San Francisco and the rest of the state, the first real test of increased vaccination will take place later this month when the state reopens on June 15. If COVID-19 rates stay low, it can dampen the demand for vaccines.
“There will be more mingling, there will be people around each other, we will watch these cases very closely and if they don’t go up, which I suspect they won’t, then say, yes, we” I have achieved herd immunity ” explained Dr. Gandhi. “You have to test it with human interaction within the population.”
And experts warn that San Francisco will likely still get the honor of being the first major city in the country to achieve herd immunity, but California may fall short.
“If everything looks fine and normal, many who are about to get the vaccine will not,” added Clark. “And all vaccination lotteries in the state aren’t going to change that.”