Is COVID-19 here to stay?

What happens if and when the U.S. reaches herd immunity?
COVID-19 cases in Va.
COVID-19 cases in Va.(Parker Michels-Boyce/ For the Virginia Mercury)
Updated: May. 3, 2021 at 10:20 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - Ever since the COVID-19 vaccine turned from a dream to reality, health experts have preached the importance of herd immunity.

However, if and when the United States reaches that milestone, will COVID-19 still be around and, if so, to what extent?

[COVID-19: ArkLaTex information hub]

KSLA News 12′s Destinee Patterson asked that very question to Dr. John Vanchiere, an infectious disease expert in the Shreveport area.

“The risk for COVID will never be zero. Even if you’re vaccinated, the risk will never be zero,” he predicted.

“There’s not going to be a point when everybody can throw away their masks and stop using hand sanitizer. That’s not going to happen,” Vanchiere continued.

“What will happen is people will get tired of those things. Over time, they will either choose to get vaccinated to protect themselves or they’ll get sick with COVID.”

Plus, the likelihood of reaching herd immunity in this country is dwindling. Vanchiere cited several reasons.

“[Health experts] are particularly concerned about the waning interest in vaccination; everybody who wanted to get vaccinated has,” he said.

“Also, the emergence of new variants ... . The virus is pulling tricks out of its bag to subvert the immune protection that we have been giving through vaccination.”

Without herd immunity, it is unlikely the virus ever will go away. That’s why Vanchiere said people should get used to the mitigation strategies already in place.

“Even if an individual chooses not to wear a mask, that doesn’t just impact their own health, potentially, but it also potentially impacts other people.”

It’s likely that international travel will look different in the future, especially since countries all over the world are in different places in the pandemic, he predicted.

“I don’t foresee that vaccine passports will gain a lot of traction, at least not in the United States. Other countries may require vaccine passports just like they do for Yellow Fever.”

Click here to see a nationwide vaccine tracker from the CDC.

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