This Many People Need to Get Vaccinated to End COVID, NIH Director Says

Without this percentage getting vaccinated, COVID could "go on and on."

With the first COVID vaccine shots being administered on Dec. 14, the U.S. has taken a significant step towards ending COVID, but it's not over yet. Health experts have warned that if not enough people get the vaccine, it could prove to be much less effective in stopping the pandemic. Francis Collins, MD, director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), just warned that if not enough people get vaccinated, the pandemic could drag on. According to Collins, health experts believe that 70 to 80 percent of Americans will need to get the vaccine in order for COVID to end.

While Collins was on NBC's Meet the Press on Dec. 13, he agreed with host Chuck Todd that we might have a real "hurdle in front of us" to get 70 to 80 percent of the population vaccinated due to misinformation and mistrust about the vaccine. "This is a source of great concern for all of us, and I would like to plead to people who are listening to this this morning to really hit the reset button on whatever they think they knew about this vaccine that might cause them to be so skeptical," Collins said, before laying out the reasons Americans should trust the vaccine. Read on for further insight into vaccine rollout, and for more essential guidance, You Shouldn't Do This Right After Getting a COVID Vaccine, Expert Warns.

If 70 to 80 percent of Americans get vaccinated, we could get rid of COVID by June.

Side view of doctor preparing vaccine syringe to inject on young patient.
ArtistGNDphotography / iStock

When Todd asked Collins if we'd still be including masks as stocking stuffers next Christmas, Collins replied with a confident, "I don't think so." However, he noted that, "It's going to depend on the American public quite a bit in terms of whether people are willing to take part in this immunization plan."

Collins said once 70 to 80 percent of Americans are immune to COVID, "this virus will basically give up, and it'll be gone, and we think we can get there by June or so for almost all of the 330 million Americans who are interested in getting this vaccine. But if only half of them do so, this could go on and on and on." And for more vaccine news, These Are the Only People Who Shouldn't Get the COVID Vaccine.

Many Americans are concerned the vaccine was rushed despite evidence to the contrary.

Four cryogenic tubes on a rack
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Collins believes part of the vaccine skepticism comes from too many Americans believing the vaccine was rushed. However, the rigorous process the vaccine went through leaves little room for carelessness, he says.

"These vaccines were designed [and] tested in phase one and then phase two and then very large phase three studies—44,000 people in the Pfizer trial," Collins said. "Then this careful analysis by objective scientists who are the only ones who first get to see the unblinded data, then it goes to the FDA, then it's reviewed in a public setting." And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

The data from the vaccine development process is available for everyone to view.

Senior man sitting using a laptop at home relaxing on the floor of the living room leaning against the sofa
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Before Americans pass judgment, Collins suggests they take a look at all of the data and details of the vaccine's safety and efficacy, which has been made public.

"I think all reasonable people—if they had the chance to sort of put the noise aside, disregard all those terrible conspiracy theories—would look at this and say, 'I want this for my family. I want it for myself,'" Collins said. And to make sure you're staying healthy, If You Have These 2 Subtle Symptoms, There's a Good Chance You Have COVID.

The COVID vaccine has received an unprecedented level of scrutiny.

Scientists wearing full protective suit working in the laboratory
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Collins says the COVID vaccine has been put through more scrupulous analysis than most vaccines, which just makes it more trustworthy in his book.

"I think there have been few—if any—vaccines that have ever been subjected to this level of scrutiny," he said. "This was based upon scientific decision making of the most rigorous sort." And if you're worried about getting sick before you're vaccinated, This Is How to Tell If Your Cough Is COVID, Doctors Say.

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