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Herd immunity against the novel coronavirus could require vaccination rates approaching as high as 90%, Dr. Anthony Fauci recently told the New York Times.

During a Tuesday briefing with reporters, Fresno County Community Health Manager Joe Prado said the trend among frontline healthcare workers is running way below that number.

“We’re seeing a variance of that. We’re seeing 50%, 60% percent in some avenues (of workers opting out of the vaccine),” said Prado. “This is within the health care worker populations.”

“It’s ‘wait and see’. That’s one of the comments we’re getting.”Fresno County Community Health Manager Joe Prado

Prado says this number is similar to survey’s of the general population, done by local community-based organizations, that show about 50% of Fresno County residents want to get vaccinated.

Fauci, who is advising both President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden on the pandemic, acknowledged that he had incrementally increased his estimates from earlier in the year, when he tended to say only 60% to 70% would need to be inoculated for herd immunity to be reached.

“We need to have some humility here,” Fauci told the Times. “We really don’t know what the real number is. I think the real range is somewhere between 70 to 90 percent. But, I’m not going to say 90%.”

‘It Was Rushed’

There are some common themes expressed by health care workers who are declining the vaccine.

“It’s ‘wait and see’. That’s one of the comments we’re getting,” said Prado. “It’s, ‘the vaccine was rushed.’ That’s a very common comment we’re getting as well.”

Prado believes a majority of those who are hesitating are waiting to see what happens with the vaccine rollout, and the experiences of those who do take the vaccine.

For the first dose of the two-shot vaccination (a requirement of both the Pfizer and Moderna versions), the county’s health department is reporting good results. Workers have experienced minimal side effects and have been able to go about their day after receiving the vaccine, officials said.

So maybe we can bring that 50% up to 75% of people wanting the vaccine here in Fresno County,” said Prado.

Sophisticated Consumers

Dr. Rais Vohra, Fresno County interim health officer

“I have to give them (healthcare workers) a little bit of credit.”Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra

Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra describes the people in the early phase of vaccine distribution as “sophisticated customers.”

“I have to give them (health care workers) a little bit of credit,” said Vohra. “When you read the fine print about how these trials were done, you know that the second dose is where some of the the more severe immune reactions can occur. It’s still a small percentage of people.”

This lines up with what Moderna vaccine trial participant Neal Browning told GV Wire℠ in November.

As far as what the effects are, definitely a sore arm, just like what you’d get with a flu shot,” says Browning. “A lot of people have reported that they got headaches, slight fevers and chills and fatigue after the second shot especially, and that those usually go away within 18 to 24 hours.”

The Second Dose

“As far as what the effects are, definitely a sore arm, just like what you’d get with a flu shot.”Neal Browning, Moderna vaccine trial participant

Vohra is set to receive his second dose of vaccine on Friday and said he has every intention of doing so.

“Worst case scenario is if I have real severe muscle aches and pains or or local pain at the side of my shot, then I’ll prepare to take a little bit of acetaminophen or ibuprofen, and I think that that’s as bad as it’ll get,” said Vohra.

GV Wire℠ asked Vohra if he’s heard any of his colleagues say they were not going to get the second shot.

“I think every one of my medical colleagues, the doctors, nurses and first line responders, they’re planning to get their second shot and just stay on schedule,” answered Vohra.

Perks for Reluctant L.A. Firefighters

KTLA Television reports that Los Angeles firefighters are being offered prizes to encourage them to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Some of the perks being offered include:

  • An Airbnb gift card
  • A home security system
  • A new bicycle
  • A free ride from Lyft

The reluctance of L.A. firefighters adds to the list of frontline workers in the state who are declining to take the vaccine, a trend that health experts say could have serious public health implications.

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