COVID-19 Vaccines and Variants: What You Need to Know

With COVID-19 infections on the rise again, it’s never been more important to get vaccinated against the virus. But because COVID-19 mutations called the delta variant is driving a new surge of cases, many have questions about the vaccine. How effective are the vaccines against delta and other variants that might pop up?

Where Do Variants Come From?

As a virus spreads, it makes copies of itself, sometimes changing slightly. This process, called mutation, is how new variants form. The more people who become infected with a virus, the more likely it will mutate and create variants.

While some variants come and go quickly, others endure. Many variants of the COVID-19 virus have emerged since the virus first appeared. The most concerning so far, however, is the delta variant.

Why Is the Delta Variant Worse Than Others?

The delta variant spreads faster than the original COVID-19 strain, as it is more than twice as contagious. This variant might also lead to more severe symptoms in unvaccinated people. According to studies in Canada and Scotland, patients with the delta variant were more likely to be hospitalized than with any other strain.

While an urgent care like River’s Edge Hospital’s Urgent Care Department is great for minor illnesses and injuries, including allergies, sprained muscles, a cold or the flu, it’s not the right option for all health issues. If you have difficulty breathing, you should always go to River’s Edge Hospital’s Emergency Department instead.

Are the Vaccines Effective?

All vaccines authorized for use in the United States are effective against the delta variant and other variants. These vaccines can prevent illness, hospitalization and death. While fully vaccinated people can still contract what’s called a “breakthrough infection” and they may become ill and experience symptoms, vaccines protect against serious illness and hospitalization.

How Can I Protect Myself and My Family?

The most important thing you can do to keep yourself and others healthy is getting vaccinated. Not only are unvaccinated people more susceptible to severe illness, the virus spreads faster among them. And as the virus spreads, it becomes more likely that additional variants will appear. Could new COVID-19 variants undermine vaccines? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no way to know how effective vaccines will be against these new strains.

In areas where cases are on the rise, the CDC recommends that everyone, including vaccinated people, wear masks indoors to reduce the spread.

Get a Vaccine Booster

The CDC now recommends boosters of the Pfizer vaccine for those 65 and older, those 18 and older with specific underlying medical conditions, and those 18 and older who work or live in high-risk settings. Currently, boosters are recommended only for those who previously received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, and they should be administered six months after your second vaccine. In a press release, the CDC said booster shots will prolong vaccines durability and maximize COVID-19 protection.

If you are moderately to severely immunocompromised due to specific health issues, you may already be eligible for a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

Experiencing symptoms? Visit River’s Edge Hospital’s Urgent Care Department, conveniently located at the hospital’s main entrance.

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