COVID-19 Update: Vaccine Hesitancy & the Delta Variant

With heatwaves and reopenings, the entire country is jumping headfirst into a hot summer whether we want to or not. In our DMV area, mask mandates were lifted right before Memorial Day weekend, just about a month ago. Thankfully, as of June 29, vaccination rates in Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. are looking hopeful with each state having over 70% of adults (any state resident age 18 or older) receiving at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and over 50% of their total population being fully vaccinated. With these numbers, we are set to meet President Biden’s goal to vaccinate 70% of adults with at least one dose by Fourth of July along with several other states.

This is good news as experts have estimated that we will need anywhere from 70% to 90% of the entire population vaccinated to reach herd immunity to successfully stop the spread of COVID-19. Not surprisingly, states with lower vaccination rates have been suffering from surges in COVID-19 cases. States like Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Wyoming are reported to have less than 35% of residents fully vaccinated. The higher vaccination rates in our area will help us slow the spread of COVID-19 as we begin to resume our normal life. It especially will be important as the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread across the country. 

The Delta variant is proving to be more transmissible and causing more severe symptoms, even in younger populations, including those who are still too young to get vaccinated. In Los Angeles County, masks in public indoors were reinstated, regardless of vaccination status, as the Delta variant began to quickly spread. This may soon be the case in more counties and states as experts expect the Delta variant to cause a surge in COVID-19 cases in the fall, in some cases an increase of up to 20%. The Pfzier/BioNTech vaccine has been shown to be 88% effective against the symptoms caused by the Delta variant

Due to these many factors, experts are advising that the time to vaccinate children 12 and up is now. Most schools start in mid to late August, which means we have about 6 weeks left. Given that it takes a total of about 5 weeks after your first dose to be fully vaccinated and for your body to build up its immunity, you have a week or two to go get that first shot in time. Vaccine hesitancy amongst parents is real, whether it’s a direct reflection of their choice to not get vaccinated themselves or due to the lack of information for children even though the parents themselves may have been vaccinated already. And yes, the recent report of side effects caused by the COVID-19 vaccines doesn’t help either. Either way, with the threat of increased hospitalizations and severe symptoms caused by the new variants (on top of the regular cold and flu season to come), parents are going to have to make big decisions real soon. Winter is coming, yet again.

Just something to keep in mind as we face another hot and humid day in the 90s.