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It Could Take Another Year Until Missouri Reaches Herd Immunity

Missouri has vaccinated 20% of the state’s population and expects a significant jump in the vaccine supply by summer — enough for all adults in the state to obtain a COVID-19 shot.

But even if the federal government boosts vaccine supply so that all U.S. adults could sign up for an appointment slot by May, as President Joe Biden promises, the state is still a year away from reaching widespread immunity, estimates Enbal Shacham, a public health professor at St. Louis University.

That’s because a vaccine still needs to be approved for children.

“Ultimately, what we need to be able to identify is that the vaccines work as well for children, and they don't have any side effects that are concerning,” said Shacham, who studies infectious disease modeling.

People under 18 years old made up nearly a quarter of the U.S. population in the 2010 census. Without a vaccine available to children, it’s unlikely the U.S. will reach herd immunity, Shacham said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and other health officials estimate up to 85% of the population needs to receive a vaccination or have had COVID-19 to stop it from spreading.

To read more of this story, visit our partners at St. Louis Public Radio.