Public Health Director Vinny Taneja told commissioners April 20 that at least 70% of the population would have to be either vaccinated or naturally immune for Tarrant County to reach herd immunity. As of April 21, 26% of all county residents have received at least one dose, and 17% are fully vaccinated.
“When you start to get above 70%, you have that herd immunity effect,” he said. “Where it's really effective is when you approach 90%. We've seen that with a lot of diseases. If you get to that 90% mark, a lot of times those diseases are eliminated. But after 70%, we get a protective effect in the community.”
Although Tarrant County is making progress, Taneja said that vaccine demand from the public has been decreasing despite the county receiving more supply.
“We're gonna continue to push signup [events] and educate the public about the need to vaccinate. But it's an uphill battle from now on,” he said. “When there's a scarcity, everybody wants something, and then when supply comes in, then everybody's losing interest.”
Vaccines are available only for those age 16 and older, meaning children are not eligible at this time. Over 1 million doses have been administered in Tarrant County as of April 21.
Tarrant County’s COVID-19 dashboard reported 174 new cases and one death April 23. Although the number of new daily cases is flattening out, Taneja continued to encourage safe health practices, including wearing masks, keeping a distance, avoiding large gatherings and washing hands.
“We're catching a good break here in Texas, and we'd like to keep it that way, but [a sudden surge] can happen anywhere, so we all need to be very, very cautious and do our part,” he said.