EXPLAINER: Why a 70% vaccination rate is so important

[anvplayer video=”5033138″ station=”998122″]

It’s a number Minnesotans know well: 70%.

That’s the goal, or starting benchmark, Gov. Tim Walz has set for the state’s COVID-19 vaccination rate.

Before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention drastically relaxed its masking guidance for fully vaccinated Americans, Walz wasn’t going to lift the state’s mask mandate until at least 70% of Minnesotans ages 16 and older get at least one dose of the vaccine. According to the Minnesota Department of Health as of Tuesday, that number is 63.9%.

The governor continues to push the state to reach that point, even creating incentives for those who haven’t received their vaccination.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS medical expert Dr. Archelle Georgiou says that’s an important mark to get to, but that it does not mean the pandemic is over.

"Seventy percent is the minimum percentage of the population that we’d need to be vaccinated or immune in order to be at herd immunity," Georgiou said. "We really don’t know the exact percentage, we won’t know until we understand the behavior of this virus."

Georgiou added that could be a smaller percentage, or as high as 90%, and that getting to herd immunity is key to beating this virus.

She also said the most important percentage of vaccinated Minnesotans to focus on is that of the entire population who are fully vaccinated. The Minnesota Department of Health reports that number is 45.7% as of Tuesday.

Once that number reaches 70% and beyond, Georgiou says that will be a major step towards ending the pandemic.

"As long as this virus doesn’t mutate into a strain that is either resistant to the vaccine or escapes the vaccine, that’s going to be a really good moment," Georgiou said.