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COVID-19 Delta Variant FAQs

  1. Is the Delta Variant here and how is it different?
    • Yes, the Delta variant is now the dominant strain of COVID-19 spreading in our region. The Delta variant is two-six times more contagious; which means there is significantly more of the virus in each droplet expelled into the air from an infected person’s respiratory tract and therefore more of a chance of infecting someone else.
  2. Why is this happening?
    • With infectious disease, the more it continues to spread, the more variants/ mutations take place. The Delta variant already has five subtypes exhibiting different properties. Until we are able to reach herd immunity and stop transmission, COVID will continue mutating to survive, including the potential to breakthrough the vaccine.
  3. Is the Delta variant more dangerous?
    • The risk of hospitalization from the Delta variant is roughly twice as high as the Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant.
    • Almost all hospitalizations are comprised of unvaccinated people, across all age groups.
    • In addition to breaking through the vaccine, the Delta variant is affecting younger and healthier populations at a higher rate.
    • Viral loads in an infected individual are two-six times higher with the Delta variant, as a result, the incubation period is shorter (four days rather than six days), meaning you may develop symptoms quicker. The quicker you increase your viral load, the harder it is for your body to fight.
  4. I am vaccinated—Can I still get COVID? Am I safe? Can I spread it?
    • The vaccination is 88-95% effective against hospitalization and severe illness from the Delta variant. This is a slight decrease in efficacy than the original COVID variant that spread through the US last year.
    • Although the vaccine is effective against severe illness and hospitalizations, a small number of breakthrough infections (when vaccinated people have symptomatic COVID) are occurring. When this happens, the body’s immune system uses its memory to quickly make antibodies to fight the virus, but may not respond quickly enough to avoid mild-moderate symptoms. Once symptomatic, you can then spread the virus through droplets coming from your respiratory tract.
    • With the increase in breakthrough infections, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) is now recommending indoor masking regardless of vaccination status. Both California and Nevada are recommending or requiring indoor masking until more people can get vaccinated.
    • Masking is proven to reduce the spread of the virus.
  5. What can I do safely? Outside or indoors?
    • The CDC has identified our region as an area with high transmission and has recommended masking indoors in public places regardless of vaccination status. 
    • Consider masking outdoors, especially in a crowded environment, to protect those around you as outdoor transmission has increased with the Delta variant.
    • If you are in a small group of known vaccinated individuals with no symptoms, you have a lower risk of COVID spread.
  6. Can I still get long-haul COVID symptoms if I am vaccinated?
    • Most breakthrough cases have been mild or asymptomatic. While we are still waiting for data regarding the possibility of long-haul COVID symptoms amongst vaccinated people, 19% of vaccinated COVID patients have had persistent symptoms (symptoms for longer than six weeks).
  7. Are the COVID vaccines safe?
    • The vaccines are safe and effective.
    • The vaccine trials included all required phases and included enough participants to provide statistically valid information. No corners were cut, only red tape, meaning the trials were able to move faster, but still met testing regulations. 
    • With approximately 338 million doses given in the U.S., we now have much more information and side effects or safety issues have been rare.
    • There are a very small number of side effects that we now know of including myocarditis in boys, thromboembolism in women ages 40-50 years old, anaphylaxis, and Guillain Barre. These are all very rare occurrences. Current data shows the risk from the vaccine is significantly lower than the risk of COVID and its impacts on your health. If you are concerned you may be at risk for any of these issues, please discuss this with your primary care provider.
  8. Are boosters recommended?
    • The vaccine is still working and protecting against severe disease; as of right now, the CDC is not recommending a booster shot.
    • Public health officials may recommend a booster shot if they believe the spread amongst vaccinated people is significant, especially for higher risk populations. Vaccinating the unvaccinated is still the most effective way to slow down spread and mutations of the virus.
  9. What are the current guidelines for isolation and quarantine?
    • If you have been exposed to COVID (someone you live with or spent time with is sick and waiting for a test result, or you have been in contact with a confirmed positive person), it is recommended you quarantine.
      • If you are vaccinated, it is recommended to wear a mask, test 3-5 days after your exposure, and take precautions for 14 days (including avoiding crowded places). If you become symptomatic, it is recommended you isolate.
      • If you are unvaccinated, it is recommended you stay home for 14 days. In certain circumstances, you may be able to stop isolation after 7 days with a negative test if you remain asymptomatic.
    • If you have any COVID-like symptoms, regardless of your vaccination status, (vomiting, diarrhea, runny nose, fever, headache, cough, difficulty breathing etc.), it is recommended you isolate and get a COVID test. If your test is:
      • Negative- you likely can stop isolating, but should be cleared by a doctor who can assess your symptoms and exposure since a negative PCR test is only 85% accurate.
      • Positive- it is recommended you isolate for 10 days. After 10 days, if your symptoms are declining and you have no fever, you can resume normal activities.