More Californians will need coronavirus vaccine than those who got flu shot last year for vaccine to be effective

Experts say the long-term recovery from COVID-19 is going to involve people's willingness to get vaccinated, participate in tracing programs and other measures. But how will Californians comply?
Infectious disease experts believe a coronavirus vaccine is key to returning to some version of our previous normal. The country would need roughly 50% to 80% immunity for the virus to retreat.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said a vaccine could be available as early as January 2021, but a recent ABC News Poll found one in four Americans would likely not get the vaccine.

"People should have a choice, but sometimes you need to put aside your own strong feelings about it for the common good," said Dr. Leo Li, an infectious disease specialist at Beverly Hospital in Montebello. "If it helps our economy, getting us back to a normal routine and decrease the risk of effecting others diversely, then I think one should do that and make that sacrifice."

Dr. Li has been treating COVID-19 patients at Beverly Hospital and imagines the coronavirus vaccine being similar to the flu vaccine, which he said is very effective even though it's not mandatory.

Just 47% of Californians got a flu shot during the 2018-2019 flu season, ranking 36 out of 49 reporting states. The U.S. has a rate of 49%. No state met the national goal of 70%.

Only about 47% of Californians got a flu shot during the 2018-2019 flu season, lower than the national average of 49% and the national goal of 70%.

Only about 47% of Californians got a flu shot during the 2018-2019 flu season, lower than the national average of 49% and the national goal of 70%.


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"Although it's not 100% at least even if it's 50%, which has been the last few years, at least partially protective so even if you contract the illness, your illness tends to be mild so you're out for a shorter period of time," said Li.

The flu, according to Li, is very contagious so if you get the vaccine and are sick for a shorter time, you're also less likely to pass it along to someone else.

When it comes to complying with other health and safety regulations, Californians are more likely to get the measles vaccines and wear a seat belt, both mandatory, than they are to get the flu vaccine. Over 95% of Californians got their kindergarteners vaccinated against measles last year, ranking 10th in the country. And according to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, 96% of Californians wear their seat belt, ranking second in the nation.

If the estimates are correct about the number of Americans who will need herd immunity in order for the virus to retreat, then the country will need a portion of those who don't get a flu shot to come around and get the coronavirus vaccine.

Grace Manthey contributed to this report.

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