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Conquering Covid-19: When is a pandemic over?

When is a pandemic over? The answer is up to all of us according to epidemiologist.

PHOENIX — More than 3 million people in Arizona have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 33% of Americans are now fully vaccinated according to the Center for Disease Control. Experts suggest that number will need to be between 70% and 80% for herd immunity. 

When is a pandemic no longer a pandemic?

The virus has impacted the entire world. “A pandemic by its very nature is something that is global,” said Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, Harvard epidemiologist and Senior Fellow at the Federation for American Scientist in Washington D.C. 

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization deemed Covid-19 a global pandemic. Since then countries have locked down, economies have slowed, health care systems at times have been overwhelmed and virtual classrooms have become a new normal for students. 

This pandemic will end sooner in certain places but overall, it will go well into next year because much of the world still hasn’t had any vaccines," said Dr. Feigl-Ding. 

Vaccines are making a difference, 34% of Arizonans are fully vaccinated

We don’t want to give a false sense that the whole thing is over, we can just open up and get back to normal, but we also don’t want to continue the sense that we are still in the emergency,” said Dr. David Englethaler, Director of TGen North. 

Many sites across Arizona now offer COVID-19 vaccines, including grocery store pharmacies and standalone pharmacies. 

This week, doctors’ offices and other neighborhood healthcare providers were able to start directly ordering vaccines from the CDC. 

Variants continue to spread domestically and abroad 

“We clearly see the tragedy playing out in India, unless we help the rest of this world end the pandemic where they are, the pandemic is not over for us even if cases are very low for us,” said Dr. Feigl-Ding. 

The hope is as the world gets closer to herd immunity, Covid-19 will become an endemic like the seasonal flu and require a seasonal booster shot. 

“We are hoping to reach herd immunity by the end of summer, beginning of fall and return back to some kind of normalcy,” said ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ. “We know through rigorous trials and federal reviews that each COVID-19 vaccine is safe and extremely effective at preventing serious cases and deaths.” 

As early as next week, the federal government is expected to approve use of the Pfizer vaccine for those 12 and older, expanding from 16 and older. State-run sites offer the Pfizer vaccine, as do some pharmacies. ADHS offers a map of vaccination sites at azdhs.gov/FindVaccine that lists which vaccine types are offered at each. 

“If you’re at the grocery store, it can pay off to swing by the pharmacy and see if they have walk-in availability for COVID-19 vaccination,” Dr. Christ said. “When the age range for Pfizer expands to 12 and up, I encourage you to make it a family affair. The more people who are vaccinated against COVID-19, the faster we can curb the spread and continue returning to normal life.”

Where can I find a Covid-19 vaccine? 

Appointments for state sites and many others are available at podvaccine.azdhs.gov. Those without computer access or needing extra help registering can call 1-844-542-8201 to be connected with someone who can assist in English or Spanish. Appointments aren’t required at state sites but can reduce the duration of your visit because registration is completed in advance. 

To learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination, please visit azdhs.gov/COVID19Vaccines.

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