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Can the United States achieve herd immunity?

At least 200 million Americans need to be vaccinated in order to reach herd immunity, but 37% either refuse or are hesistant to get their doses.

CLEVELAND — It's the 21st century version of the war effort, only this time against a viral enemy. We know the vaccines work, but there are some variables that may inhibit us reaching herd immunity.

We need at least 200 million Americans vaccinated to reach herd immunity, but a Kaiser Family Foundation survey found 37% either won't or are still hesitant.  

That number doesn't take unvaccinated kids into account. 

We know the vaccines are effective against the predominant UK variant, but there are other mutations developing that could potentially be vaccine resistant.

Experts are telling us we'll likely need vaccine boosters in the next few months, meaning protection will eventually wane.  Even protection from natural infection. 

But here's another thing we know: This virus is still dangerous.  

According to the CDC, 20% of unvaccinated people who've tested positive for COVID-19 will end up with severe disease, 5% will end up in intensive care and nearly 2% will die.  

"We're seeing younger patients, sicker and more patients coming in, it really breaks my heart every time I put someone on a breathing machine and something that would be prevented if they had the vaccine almost every person I saw last week did not have the vaccines," says Dr. Raed Dweik, Chair of Cleveland Clinic's Respiratory Institute.

Dr. Dweik is more optimistic, saying the vaccine is the best way to get this virus under control and get us back to normal.

"If 70 percent get vaccinated even if 30% can't get vaccinated for whatever reason, they're still be protected as well so I think it's really important for anyone who can get vaccinated get the vaccine," he says.

Another issue in getting the virus under control is fewer people are getting tested for COVID, which is causing health experts monitoring cases to fly blind. This week, an FDA approved rapid test is available over the counter at CVS, Walgreens and Walmart and can be used on kids as young as 2.

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