Epidemiologist explains importance of herd immunity as Nevada vaccination rates lag behind

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — As Nevada’s COVID-19 vaccination rates fall behind many other states in the nation, 8 News Now spoke with a local expert about the importance of herd immunity and risk of community transmission. 

Many who spoke with us Wednesday said they still have mixed feelings about the vaccine rollout. 

“If you think it is risky to take the vaccine,” said Las Vegan Benjamin Smith, who’s received the COVID-19 vaccine. “I think it is also a risk to not take the vaccine.”

“Not to say I would never get vaccinated,” Las Vegan Fonda Turner countered. “But as of today, I just kind of want to sit back and observe.”

However, a number of Nevadans on the fence has led to low vaccination numbers. 

On Wednesday, our state health department reported 42.46% of those 12 and older as fully vaccinated. 

That is far below places like New York and Vermont, which are touting rates of 70% to 80%. 

“Even if you have a lot of the population vaccinated,” Infectious disease epidemiologist Brian Labus said. “You can still have a cluster of people who are unvaccinated come together and that is how disease spreads.”

Labus told 8 News Now while herd immunity won’t completely stop the disease, it will curb community wide outbreaks. 

“We can still see people get sick and die from this,” Labus added. “Even with those low transmission rates.”

Labus called vaccines everyone’s best bet for protection, and a lot of Southern Nevadans are all for it. 

“I would wonder why they are hesitant,” Smith said of those who haven’t gotten vaccinated. 

Conversely, others said no matter the decision, each person’s choice is up to them. 

“I think you have to look at the whole situation,” Tanner concluded. “Because everyone’s situation is so different.”

Labus did tell 8 News Now casinos in the resort corridor are reporting vaccination rates of about 90% among employees. 

He called this an important step to protect our local community from tourist transmission. 

For a look at Nevada’s vaccination numbers, CLICK HERE.

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