Official: Michigan needs to vaccinate 90% of the population to reach herd immunity

The state's top epidemiologist is worried that a new strain of the coronavirus may make that feat even more difficult.

Michigan needs to vaccinate 90% of the people in the state age 16 or older in order to reach herd immunity and allow us to return to normal life. That’s the word from the state’s chief epidemiologist Sarah Lyon-Callo.

Previously, state officials had targeted a 70% vaccination rate, but a new, more virulent strain of the coronavirus is placing greater pressure on the state to get as many people vaccinated as possible.

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The new strain, called B.1.1.7, is reportedly 1.5 times more contagious than the version we’re used to, though it doesn’t seem to cause worse symptoms and is expected to be susceptible to the coronavirus vaccine.

“I think there’s still a lot more work that needs to be done to understand exactly how that virus spreads in Michigan and the United States,” said Lyon-Callo.

She’s not the only one revising expectations around immunization rates. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told the New York Times last month that the U.S. may need to vaccinate between 80 and 90% of people 16 and older in order to achieve herd immunity.

You can read the full story on Bridge Michigan.

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