Orange County reaches 70% vaccination rate for adults, but herd immunity remains moving target

Local news
People stroll through the Downtown Disney shopping district in Anaheim in July. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

People stroll through the Downtown Disney shopping district in Anaheim in July 2021. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Orange County has hit what both public health officials and experts describe as a significant milestone: 70% of residents 18 and older had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of last week.

The county has been been working to get to some level of so-called herd immunity by the beginning of July. That’s gaining more urgency as the new, highly infectious Delta variant is spreading. Delta is now the dominant variant in California, and is blamed for a rise in new cases in L.A. County.

Orange County has nearly 700,000 minors countywide — 65% of whom are under 12 and, consequently, have not been approved to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. So does the level of vaccination approach actual herd immunity?

To achieve a 70% threshold among the population at large, considered the low end of herd immunity, nearly 82% of Orange County residents over age 12 would have to be vaccinated or still have sufficient levels of coronavirus antibodies in their systems after recovering from an infection.

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