PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Nearly 63% of Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Yet the surge of COVID cases with the omicron variant is worse than ever.

So what is the idea behind herd immunity?

Vaccinations and infection only provide a finite amount of immunity. It’s not lifelong and immunity is not always against infection but against severe disease.

Dr. Chunhei Chi, a professor of global health at Oregon State University, said the vaccine was never supposed to eradicate COVID.

“The origin of developing the vaccine was not aimed at preventing infection and that as a result we have seen the not so effective vaccine at preventing the spread of infection,” Dr. Chi told KOIN 6 News. “But the primary goal of this vaccine is preventing death and serious symptom, and for that I think they’re highly successful.”

The focus now, he said, is to protect the weak and those unable to be vaccinated and shift away from focusing on cases.

Long COVID

Long COVID — when you experience symptoms of the virus weeks after testing negative — affects 1-in-3 people. As of July 2021, Long COVID can be considered a disability by the ADA.

There are 2 pieces of relevant information about Long COVID: One, it usually occurs from damage to the lung and then will go on to damage other organs. Omicron is less capable of damaging our lungs.

The second is that researchers found out Long COVID is not unique to COVID-19. Many other infectious diseases provide these long standing symptoms such as the flu or pneumonia.

Kathleen Bogart, the director of the Disability and Social Interactions Lab at OSU, said the disabled have been calling for this kind of research for years.

“There is an opportunity here to to bring some of these disability challenges to light. There are many opportunities to talk about disability in a less stigmatizing way and ways to tackle the social isolation that many people with disabilities have been experiencing before the pandemic, which has escalated now,” Bogart said. “Fortunately due to technology many with disabilities are creating their own networks and gaining resilience that way.”

There is a center at OHSU prepared to work with people with Long COVID. But you must be hospitalized for 27 days or having symptoms for 3 months.