FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Health officials are urging the public to get fully vaccinated as concern about the Delta COVID variant grows throughout the country.
“It’s easier to transmit so it’s more contagious,” said Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, the Chair of the White House COVID Equity Task Force. “So if you’ve been waiting and thinking about getting vaccinated, sadly, we have yet another reason to do so and that’s the Delta variant and its arrival here in the United States.”
When saying it’s “more contagious” Nunez-Smith was comparing the Delta variant to the Alpha variant, which is what the United States was already seeing. Allen County’s Health Commissioner, Dr. Sutter said there’s also been some thought that the Delta variant is the more deadly of the two.
The health commissioner added that this variant is additionally “concerning” because it caused India to have “huge spikes of cases,” including with people who were previously infected with COVID-19 before.
While the Delta variant is growing in terms of it’s dominance in the United States, according to Nunez-Smith, Dr. Sutter said the Delta variant has not been seen in Allen County yet.
It’s also been very prominent in the United Kingdom, specifically in younger people ages 12 through 20.
“We can learn a lot from what’s happening in the UK, let me see how quickly Delta spread and became dominant and really was affecting younger folks, those people who hadn’t been vaccinated yet,” said Nunez-Smith. “So, here in our country we have opportunity now to really do our part and get ahead of it.”
According to the CDC, about 45% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Statewide, 47 percent of eligible Hoosiers are vaccinated, ranking 32nd in terms of the highest vaccination rate in the country.
Nunez-Smith said communities need at least 70% of the eligible population to get vaccinated “in order for us to feel as though we’re going to be able to win that battle with COVID-19 and of course, with the Delta variant.”
“When you look at hospital beds across the country, they’re filled largely with people who are unvaccinated,” said Nunez-Smith. “Good news is that the vaccines work. The virus will go where it has an invitation to and sadly that’s any pocket where people are not vaccinated. The benefit of getting vaccinated way outweigh any potential risks of the vaccine and certainly the risk of getting COVID-19, precisely because of the Delta variant.”
Dr. Sutter said there are concerns that we could see another COVID wave in the fall.
“I think the states where there are high vaccination rates where they’re getting above 70% are much less likely to see that,” said Dr. Sutter. “The vaccines are safe and effective and they’re free, and they’re easily available so it’s frustrating.”
You can track how many Hoosiers have been fully vaccinated here.