When will Indiana reach herd immunity? Local experts say it could be sooner than you think

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INDIANAPOLIS — It is a question at the top of everyone’s mind – when will life get back to normal after the pandemic? Well, local experts we spoke to say the answer can be measured in vaccinations.

new online tool released by media and software company, Bloomberg, tracks the global immunization rate on any given day. According to the site, data is updated frequently and provides a “snapshot in time” to put today’s vaccination rates into perspective. 

According to Bloomberg’s data on Friday, the United States’ vaccination rate is an average of 1.3 million doses administered per day. Data shows that at this rate, it will take an estimated 11 months to fully vaccinate 75% of the population.

However local experts said, in Indiana, it will take even less time.

“It’s taken us about 54 days to get to 191,000 people fully vaccinated,” said Dr. Thomas Duszynski – Director of Epidemiology Education at IU Fairbanks School of Public Health.

To date, the number of fully vaccinated Hoosiers accounts for just 2% of the state’s population. However, researchers at Regenstrief Institute said there is another percent of the population already contributing to herd immunity.

“Based on our statewide testing study that we’ve done at the School of Public Health… about 18% of Hoosiers have had COVID-19,” said Regenstrief Institute’s Director of Public Health Informatics, Dr. Brian Dixon. “There was a recent study last month that showed people still had immunity — at least many of them had immunity — even after 8 months from when they were infected.”

Dr. Dixon said this data gives researchers hope that those who had the virus in the fall are still going to be protected through the spring.

“So, the combination of those people having some immunity from being infected and other people now getting the vaccine, we can hit kind of the magical number of somewhere between 60-80% [immunity],” Dr. Dixon said.

Both Dr. Dixon and Dr. Duszynski estimate herd immunity in Indiana can happen as early as this summer or early fall. Still, they said there are several factors that could shorten that timeframe: like pharmacies being added as distribution sites and new single-dose vaccines being approved by the FDA.

“[Johnson and Johnson] applied yesterday for Emergency Use Authorization to the FDA so we can see that [vaccine] in one to two weeks being approved,” said Dr. Dixon. “That would really put us in position to ramp up vaccinations in March.”

“I mean we can be fully vaccinated in as little as a couple hundred days if we had enough vaccine to go around,” said Dr. Duszynski. “I’m hoping by mid-fall that things will be pretty much back to normal.”

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