My wife got her second shot last week. She is officially vaccinated, and I guess officially a survivor of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hospitalization rates and infections are crashing across much of the US. Some estimates suggest we could be close to 50% of the country at least partially protected via vaccine or previous infection. That's probably the most optimistic take on current events, but even if it's only 40% it's a lot of people.
We probably won't get to herd immunity this year in the US because there are just too many ignorant anti-vaxxers in this country. However the public health messaging has been awful and that certainly hasn't helped people on the fence make a good decision. Make vaccines mandatory for any large gathering (sports, NASCAR, concerts) and a lot of the anti-vaxxer resistance will fade away. These people are selfish, so we should play to those instincts.
But they can't stop progress. The US will likely hit about 65% protected via vaccine, infection, or both, around July 1. At that point the protected will mostly stop worrying about it. Large gatherings, especially indoors, may stay a rarity until Fall. Your 4th of July BBQ with vaccinated friends should go off with no issues. We've got a summer of camping trips and day trips to the beach planned, and baseball and soccer on the weekends we stay in town. We've booked a trip to a populated area for our anniversary in August.
People will still die from COVID, just like they still die from the flu every year. And it'll get about the same amount of attention in the press. Winter may see a spike ala flu season, and this may become our new normal. I suspect annual vaccines for COVID may become the normal too.
I can live with that.