Herd immunity for adults by the end of May? Austin-Travis County health officials hope to make it happen

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin-Travis County health officials say they’re hoping to achieve herd immunity from COVID-19 in adults by the end of May.

Dr. Mark Escott, the Austin Public Health interim health authority, said while adult herd immunity could happen by then, COVID-19 can still circulate in children so, in his estimation, early fall would be the earliest time the community could “relax.”

According to the county’s COVID-19 dashboard, the rolling average of new hospitalizations continues to be firmly in Stage 3 risk level at 18. There were 15 new hospitalizations reported Tuesday, and if the downward trend continues, the area could move to Stage 2 in April. The threshold for Stage 2 risk level is a rolling average of new hospitalizations under 10.

Escott is worried about a couple events that may cause an uptick in cases: last week’s spring break and the upcoming Good Friday and Easter holidays.

“It is a time to get together with family. It’s a time to gather together with your church community. We have to be very careful, particularly in our Hispanic communities, because it could light a fire,” he said.

“And I don’t want that to happen. So folks that are higher risk, really need to choose a virtual option.  Other folks, if they’re going to gather together, go to church in person, please wear a mask. Please wash your hands. Please do those things to minimize your risk.”

Escott warned that despite vaccinations, high-risk individuals and those who live with high-risk individuals should refrain from gathering in-person.

About spring break, he said there hasn’t quite been enough time to determine if a spike hasn’t occurred. Once two weeks have passed, then health officials will assess the data and see what they can determine.

Austin Public Health says 180,000 people have been vaccinated by APH alone — but anyone who is currently eligible and has the opportunity is encouraged to get their shot wherever they can.

“The sooner we all get vaccinated, we all can be protected and get back to a more normal scenario,” said Cassandra DeLon, APH Chief Administrative Officer. “But this is not the time to get lax.”

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