Health official: Taylor Co. a long way from herd immunity, but it’s still possible

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Health officials say Taylor County is a long way from herd immunity, but it’s still possible to achieve. 

Dr. Annie Drachenberg, with the Taylor County Public Health Authority, says a new group of people becoming eligible for the vaccine has seen our vaccination percentage drop.

The Taylor County vaccination rate was recently at 45%, but is now down to 33%.

“It’s because we opened it up to a new age group now, and because it’s opened up for the Pfizer vaccine for ages 12 and above, they are using that as the number for the total population,” said Drachenberg. 

While 33% of eligible Taylor County residents have now been vaccinated, 38% have had at least one dose. 

Drachenberg says for ages 65 and up, the vaccination rate is more encouraging. 

“Upper 60s for people who have been fully vaccinated, and well over 70% for people who have at least received one vaccine,” said Drachenberg. 

Drachenberg says that we have also seen a steep decline in hospitalizations, which she believes is attributed to the vaccination efforts to at-risk patients. 

As case numbers have gone down, Annette Lerma, Public Health Director for Abilene and Taylor County, says they want to make some changes on how they report COVID-19 cases.

“We’re asking to potentially only report Monday through Friday,” said Lerma.  

The idea is to help give the staff a break on the weekends. 

Lerma says her staff is having to duplicate work to update the city’s template and their dashboard, so she will ask the Abilene City Council to consider using just their dashboard. 

“It provides a lot more history, it tells a better story because you can see the trends, you can see the ups and the downs and where we are currently,” said Lerma. 

Only using one of the platforms or potentially a hybrid of the two will streamline the reporting process, Lerma says. 

While Taylor County is not at herd immunity yet, Drachenberg says she is confident it can be reached if more people receive their vaccine. 

Experts say herd immunity can be achieved once 70 to 90% of a population is vaccinated. 

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