Nine months into the pandemic, many people in the Kansas City region and across the country are suffering from COVID-19 fatigue. Some have suggested it would be better to fully open businesses and schools without mask or social distancing requirements, letting the virus run its course in order to build herd immunity. This is an extremely risky strategy that public health officials say would have catastrophic results.
“Herd immunity” is achieved when enough people (at least 80% of the population) are no longer vulnerable to infection — either because they’ve already had the disease, or they have been vaccinated against it. Diseases that used to be common in the U.S., such as measles and chicken pox, have become rare because of robust vaccination programs that support herd immunity.