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Munson Minutes | Understanding the COVID-19 Delta Variant

Published on Jul. 26, 2021

Health experts describe the COVID-19 Delta variant as the most “fit” variant to date. That means this version of the virus is spreading much more quickly and easily. There’s also evidence showing infection from the Delta variant can cause a more severe form of the disease.

In this episode of Munson Minutes, Munson Healthcare Chief Medical Officer Christine Nefcy, MD, FAAP, (Dr. Nefcy) and Chief Quality and Safety Officer Joe Santangelo, MD, (Dr. Santangelo) share what we know so far about the Delta Variant and pass along a few tips for keeping yourself and your family safe.


Understanding the COVID-19 Delta Variant

Dr. Nefcy

Welcome to this episode of Munson Minutes. I'm Dr. Christine Nefcy, Chief Medical Officer for Munson Healthcare, and I'm joined today by Dr. Joseph Santangelo, Munson Healthcare’s Chief Quality and Safety Officer. 

Dr. Santangelo

So Dr. Nefcy, tell us about the COVID-19 Delta variant… What's new about this? 

Dr. Nefcy

The Delta variant was first detected around the December (2020) timeframe and first noted in the United States around March (2021). It's of concern for us because what we know so far is that it's much more contagious than the wild type of the virus or even some of the earlier variants that we saw.

There's also some evidence that it might also cause more illness in people. So people that get that Delta variant are more likely to be hospitalized with respiratory and other problems. 

Dr. Santangelo

Viruses mutate. That's what they do. These variants are to be expected as this virus is spreading around the globe. And this Delta variant spreads much faster among people as well, right?

Dr. Nefcy

That's absolutely right. That’s why it's a variant of concern, because of how quickly and easily it spreads. 

Dr. Santangelo

And it spreads the same way as the other COVID-19 variants, through droplets, right? 

Dr. Nefcy

Exactly. The reason we wear masks is because it keeps our droplets from spreading. And droplets are how that variant is spread from person to person.

Dr. Santangelo

Those same strategies we've been following all along to help to protect each other from COVID-19 work against this variant as well. 

Dr. Nefcy

Exactly. What do we know about the Delta variant and immunizations?

Dr. Santangelo

Immunizations work very well against the Delta variant. And what we know is that if you only get one shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, it does not work as well against the Delta variant. So you really need both doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. But the good news is: if you're vaccinated against COVID-19 that means you're vaccinated against the Delta variant as well. 

Dr. Nefcy

We had been hearing news from other countries and other places that maybe we should just get one dose in and try to get more people with partial vaccination status. But what you're saying is that with the Delta variant and because of how contagious it is… It's really important that people get the full dose — the complete series — of one of the vaccines available here in the United States.

Dr. Santangelo

It's really important to give that vaccine time to let your body develop immunity to COVID-19 so that you're fully protected. And that means two weeks after your second dose of a two-dose vaccine.

For those teenagers who can get the Pfizer vaccine now, you’ll need to get both doses and then give two weeks. That means start to finish about five weeks. So go ahead and get those that first dose of the vaccine so that you can be fully protected by the time you're returning to school. 

Dr. Santangelo

It's normal to have questions about the vaccine. If you don't have a primary care provider to answer those questions for you, there’s the Munson Healthcare Ask-A-Nurse line that’s open and available to answer any questions you may have about the vaccine.

Dr. Santangelo

Please reach out to Munson Healthcare Ask-A-Nurse at 231-935-0951. Our nursing team is here for you every day from 7 am to 11 pm at no charge. Representatives are happy to answer any health question you may have, whether it's related to COVID-19, the vaccines, or any other topic. 

Ask-a-Nurse   231-935-0951

Thanks for tuning in to this episode of Munson Minutes.