DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Medical experts in North Texas have pushed back COVID-19 herd immunity projections in Dallas County to later in the summer due to slowing vaccination rates.

Steve Miff, president and CEO of Parkland Center of Clinical Innovation (PCCI), said Wednesday the organization updated its forecast to reach herd immunity from mid-June to later in July. The forecast is based on 80% of the county’s population either having recovered from the virus or having received the vaccine.

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According to Miff, the county is currently at 64% herd immunity. The organization said the slowing vaccination rates are having a “negative impact” on the forecast.

Miff said there is an “ample supply of vaccine and no wait times” but that the rates keep dropping. Around 35% of the Dallas County population has been vaccinated.

“The longer it takes us to contain and crush COVID, the more chances the virus has to create new mutations that could be more transmissible, more deadly and more elusive to previously developed antibodies,” Miff said.

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Miff said the trend of lower vaccination rates is being seen in the young adult population, which both county judges and other medical experts have picked up on. Those vaccinated between the ages of 18 to 29 and 30 to 50 are 10% to 15% lower than the national level.

“I thin there’s still a group that don’t want to be the first. They don’t want to be the guinea pig for the vaccine, and hopefully we have addressed that as well,” Miff said.

Medical experts also continue to reiterate there’s still a race against time as North Texas continues to fight off variants of COVID-19, saying the longer it takes to reach herd immunity, the longer it gives the virus to mutate.

“We encourage everyone to receive their COVID vaccination sooner than later. The quicker we can reach herd immunity the sooner we can return to safely interacting with our friends and families, teachers return to classes without fear and reduce the strain on our first responders, hospitals and their staff,” he added.

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In an effort to increase the vaccination rate, the state is spending millions on television, radio and digital displays to address hesitancy

CBSDFW.com Staff