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Dallas County reached a Covid-19 vaccine milestone on Friday. Over 300,000 total vaccines have now been administered in our community, inching us one step closer to herd immunity.
Herd immunity occurs when enough people in a community are protected, making it hard for a virus to spread from person to person. People may become immune from natural infection or vaccination. Nearly 38% of eligible people in Dallas county have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Scientists do not know exactly what percent of the population must be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. Most experts believe the number to be around 70%. Catching Covid-19 offers some natural protection, but scientific studies have shown that vaccination is a safer way to achieve immunity than from a natural infection. Scientists do not know how long the protection lasts or how effective natural immunity is against the growing number of Covid variants.
The CDC states, "the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 far outweighs any benefits of natural immunity."
Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) reported updated case counts on April 9. Dallas County has confirmed a cumulative total of 253,668 Covid-19 cases. A total of 3,687 Dallas County residents have lost their lives due to COVID-19.
Dallas is closely monitoring the level of the SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7, which has become the dominant variant in multiple states. B.1.1.7 is more contagious and more dangerous.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins continues to encourage all eligible citizens to get vaccinated. Jenkins announced a new program to improve Covid-19 vaccine access for our city's most vulnerable population. Many older adults cannot get to a vaccine site physically. People 85 and older are at the highest risk for severe illness and death from COVID-19.
Dallas County Health Services (DCHHS) is partnering with the Office of Emergency Management to offer the Covid-19 vaccine to homebound residents. DCHHS will work with the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department to directly bring the Janssen/Johnson and Johnson vaccine to people's homes. Dallas county will work with The Visiting Nurse Association (VNA), a local nonprofit community-based health care entity offering homebound care to local seniors since 1934.
Dallas continues to work to improve the equitable distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine. The Fair Park vaccine hub provides vaccines to thousands of people per day, but vaccines' highest rate continues to go to people from wealthy zip codes. DCHHS continues its efforts to reach areas of the county with the highest number of cases and help people overcome vaccine hesitancy.
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In more good news, Pfizer officially submitted a request for eligibility expansion emergency use authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for those aged 12-15 years on April 9. Pfizer's phase 3 clinical trial results showed the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was 100% effective and generated a high antibody response in children aged 12–15.
This report is excellent news for adolescents who are ready to get back to everyday life.Infection rates in children have been low during the pandemic, but the rise of variants such as B.1.1.7 is changing the way we view Covid-19 in kids. A youth sports outbreak in Minneapolis was a wake-up call to public health experts.
Children are often asymptomatic carriers but can pass the infection on to parents, teachers, and grandparents. The expansion of vaccine eligibility to children age 12-15 will help us reduce the asymptomatic spread of Covid-19 and move us closer to herd immunity.
There are three FDA-approved vaccines for Covid-19. The Moderna and Janssen vaccines are approved for those 18 years old and up. The Pfizer vaccine is approved starting at age 16.
All three vaccines are highly effective in preventing death.
Dallas country residents can register for the vaccine here.