NEW YORK CITY — While NYC still has a ways to go to achieve herd immunity—where enough of the population is protected against the virus to prevent further spread—public health officials on Wednesday morning say NYC has “functional immunity.”
What does that mean exactly?
“There’s more and more activity,” said Mitchell Katz, president and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals. “We’re hugging each other; we’re shaking hands. And yet the number of cases is decreasing — just the opposite of what happened when New York City began to open last year. So, the high rates of vaccination are resulting in fewer infections, despite increased contact. That’s why I think of it as a ‘functional immunity.’
“In true herd immunity, it means that everybody is protected from infection because everybody else has been vaccinated,” said Katz. “We’re not at that stage. And that’s why there continues to be infections. But we are at ‘functional immunity.'”
NYC is about 76 percent to its goal of having 5 million people fully vaccinated by the end of June and 88 percent to goal of at least one-dose vaccinations, said de Blasio.
Roughly 56 percent of NYC residents, 18 and older, are fully vaccinated, according to the city’s data. Around 46 percent of all NYC residents, including adolescents, are fully vaccinated. The current positivity rate over the last week is 0.71 percent.
Dave Chokshi, the city’s health commissioner, added that herd immunity is essentially “community immunity that is driven by vaccination” and the city is able to reopen at the current level due to the number of people vaccinated.
“But it’s also an opportunity for us to emphasize that there remain people who are unvaccinated.” said Chokshi. “And we want to reach every single New Yorker to extend that blanket of protection as widely as possible across the city.”
De Blasio blamed the federal government’s pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccines for disrupting “a lot of progress.”
“It’s going to be very, very tough at this point to hit five million by the end of June, but we are going to be well over four million,” said de Blasio.
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