As of Tuesday, 75% of eligible residents in Santa Clara County were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 82% of eligible people had received at least a first dose, the county said.
The county doesn't want to use the term herd immunity, but it has set a goal of getting at least 85% of the eligible population fully vaccinated. The county said at that point residents can feel safe.
"That would mean that we’re in a safer place where people can start to take their masks off and resume some level of normalcy," Deputy County Executive Dr. Rocio Luna said.
Luna said 85% doesn't mean people should feel like the pandemic has ended. So many people globally have not been vaccinated and new vaccine-resistant variants are always a threat.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo echoed Luna's concerns. His city is the first mong 10 largest cities in the country to reach 85% first dose vaccinated, but many people still need that second dose.
"Having a full two doses of vaccinations is critical to enable us individually to protect ourselves and also to protect our whole community," Liccardo said.
A family from Washington was visiting Tuesday and said they felt better knowing the Bay Area is getting back to normal – and highly protected.
“Yeah it felt more comfortable that everything is open and you can go places without masks,” said Seth McKee.
Visit San Jose Spokesperson Frances Wong said the vaccine numbers are helping tourism and convention organizers looking for venues are asking about it.
“We just can’t wait to get San Jose up and running again,” said Wong. “Because of our record of high vaccination rates, and there’s a reassurance of safety in California and especially in San Jose in particular. A lot of our clients are looking to re-book, and re-book soon so they can have in person events.”
Events like Summerfest and Silicon Valley's version of Comic Con, SiliCon, are coming back in a few weeks.
So if the Bay Area is largely protected, is that enough to protect locals as visitors pour in from low-vaccinated states?
“Well if your forcefield is big enough, no matter how many people come into your city, as a community you’re not going to see an exponential increase which is what we all fear,” said UCSF Dr. Peter Chin-Hong. “That’s prevented by this force field, or some people describe it as a mote where if the virus comes in it just sort of sinks.”