Metro Detroit health experts weigh in on steps needed to reach herd immunity for COVID-19

At least 70 percent of population needs to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity

Experts weigh in on what needs to happen to reach herd immunity

DETROIT – From the very beginning experts have cautioned that vaccines are the only way to get out of the pandemic.

For the pandemic to end we need to reach herd immunity and that means at least 70 percent of the population needs to be vaccinated.

At this point we seem to have hit the tipping point as many people remain hesitant about getting the vaccine. Health experts believe there are conversations on the issue that need to begin happening soon.

They believe there will be fewer deaths and hospitalizations after reaching herd immunity for COVID-19. However, they fear COVID-19 might not go away.

“It really is going to take a different approach to convince that group that they need to get the vaccine,” said Dr. Patricia Wilkerson-Uddyback, Vice President of Community Affairs at the Detroit Medical Center.

Dr. Asha Shajahan, Medical Director of Community Health for Beaumont, also commented on the issue.

“The longer we wait, the longer it’s going to take for us to get through this,” said Dr. Shajahan.

When it comes to the vaccine doctors say boosting shots in arms will come down to one on one chats with people we know.

“I’ve had these conversations with many friends and family myself. It’s not going to be bullying or, you know, condemning them or ridiculing now, it’s about really trying to face whatever issues they have or questions they have head on and try to dispel those with facts,” said Dr. Wilkerson-Uddyback.

Doctors say you don’t need to be a medical expert to share your experience.

“The first thing you want to do when you’re having a vaccine conversation with a family or friend is to listen. Secondly, you want to meet that with compassion. This is not the time to judge, this is not the time to lecture. And then I think talk about your own story,” said Dr. Shajahan.

Dr. Wilkerson-Uddyback added, “If that person comes into contact with 10 people who are saying the same thing. That little by little, maybe we can start to breakdown some of these silos.”

Medical experts say those who are hesitant are most concerned about safety and side effects.

“One of the things I always tell people is, well you know what if you had cancer. Are you going to bypass the chemotherapy, because you don’t know what’s in chemotherapy,” said Dr. Wilkerson-Uddyback.

Dr. Shajahan reminded people that research on coronavirus vaccines has been in the works for years and not new.

“Pfizer and Moderna are mRNA vaccine has been around for over a decade, it’s been researched, it’s been studied. And if you’re looking at the add no vector vaccines which is AstraZeneca and J&J that’s been around since the 1700s,” said Dr. Asha Shajahan.

Doctors say normalizing the COVID-19 conversation and taking the stigma out might encourage more people to get vaccinated.

“Who do you go to for advice about anything. You go to your family and friends because they want what’s best for you,” said Dr. Shajahan.

Dr. Wilkerson-Uddyback added, “People will think about what you say. You might not think that they are but they will when they leave.”

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Michigan has risen to 851,947 as of Tuesday, including 17,897 deaths, state officials report.

Tuesday’s update includes a total of 2,527 new cases and 126 additional deaths.

LATEST: Michigan coronavirus cases up to 851,947; Death toll now at 17,897


About the Authors:

Priya joined WDIV-Local 4 in 2013 as a reporter and fill-in anchor. Education: B.A. in Communications/Post Grad in Advanced Journalism

Natasha Dado is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit.