Stay on Guard as Deadly Delta Variant Cases Rise

July 12, 2021

Millions of residents in Los Angeles and Orange County have gotten at least one dose of a vaccine against COVID-19. Now a more contagious, deadlier strain of the virus —Delta — is spreading across the country and affecting those who have not been fully vaccinated.

Having at least one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines provides limited protection, but only fully vaccinated individuals are well protected from the Delta variant.

The alarming number of new infections from this highly contagious version of the coronavirus has prompted the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to strongly recommend wearing a mask indoors to stay protected. Now is not the time for communities to lower their guard as the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19 continues.

Microscope Delta

What is a variant?

Viruses are always mutating. Think about the flu virus. There is a different strain to fight each year because it is constantly changing.

The same is happening with the virus that causes COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently tracking four variants in the United States:

  • Alpha — This was first discovered in the United Kingdom. It was detected in the U.S. in December 2020.
  • Beta — This first appeared in South Africa in December. It appeared in the U.S. in January 2021.
  • Gamma — This was discovered in Japan in early January, carried by travelers from Brazil. It showed up in the U.S. later that month.
  • Delta — This was identified in India in December of last year. The first U.S. case appeared in March 2021.

These variants are the most contagious and, left unchecked, can put a remarkable strain on the health care system which may ultimately lead to more deaths.

Delta

Stopping the spread

No matter how much we would like to, we can’t go back to how our lives were before the pandemic yet. The Delta variant has the potential to spark new outbreaks across the United States and around the world.

  • Get vaccinated — Vaccines are the fastest and most effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Give vaccines time to work — It takes about two weeks for your immune system to be protected.
  • Use caution in group gatherings — The safest social gatherings are those where all participants have been fully vaccinated.
  • Masks protect against new strains — The coronavirus needs new hosts in order to mutate. Masks help prevent infections and therefore lower the risk of new variants developing.

Delta

Don’t ease up

For now, if you have been fully vaccinated:

  • You still need to follow local and state safety guidelines.
  • Wear a face mask when indoors or in crowds to protect yourself and others.
  • Maintain hand hygiene — use hand sanitizer to clean hands frequently, and wash hands for 20 seconds at a time.
  • Practice physical distancing — stay six feet apart from others whether inside or outside.
  • Wipe down any surfaces you touch.

For more information about the vaccine or testing, please visit AltaMed.org or call our vaccine hotline at (888) 909-5232. Find a vaccine event happening in your community here.

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Don’t Lower Your Guard Against COVID, Even After Receiving the Vaccine

February 09, 2021

If you are one of the Los Angeles and Orange County residents who has received one of the three approved COVID-19 vaccines, you are not in the clear to resume life as usual just yet. While the vaccine provides much needed relief in the fight against coronavirus, these are some of the key reasons why we must remain vigilant against COVID-19:

  • No vaccine is 100% effective — One in 20 people can still get COVID-19 after the vaccine.
  • Vaccines don’t work instantly — It takes about two weeks for your immune system to be protected.
  • You can still spread the virus — Most vaccines prevent you from becoming sick but not from passing the virus to others if you become infected.
  • Masks protect others — People with other diseases are at a higher risk of becoming very ill if they get COVID-19.
  • Masks protect against new strains — Some are more contagious.

Waiting in Line

Remember, if you received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, two doses are required for your immune system to create enough antibodies to give you a greater than 95% chance of fighting off the virus. It is also important to complete your vaccine doses as close to the recommended interval as possible. According to the CDC, you have to wait at least 21 days before getting the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 28 days before getting the second dose of the Moderna vaccine. If you receive the second dose too soon, you won’t get the 95% protection rate. 

Only one dose is required of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Remember, you are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after you’ve received any one of the three vaccines. 

What Has Changed For Those Who Are Fully Vaccinated? 

  • You can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask.
  • You can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19
  • If you have been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms. 
  • However, if you live in a group setting and are around someone who has COVID-19, you should still stay away from others for 14 days and get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms.

Band aid

What Has Not Changed?

For now, if you have been fully vaccinated:

  • You will still need to follow the following guidelines for businesses.
  • Wear your masks — Face masks to protect others.
  • Maintain hand hygiene — Use hand sanitizer to clean hands frequently, and wash hands for 20 seconds at a time. 
  • Practice physical distancing — Stay six feet apart from others whether inside or outside. 
  • Wipe down any surfaces you touch. 

For more information about the vaccine or testing, please visit AltaMed.org or call our vaccine hotline at (888) 909-5232.

Don’t Forget Vaccinations Are Needed for Back to School

April 14, 2021

Getting kids back in school is important for their emotional, intellectual, and social well-being. Doing that safely means getting your kids to their pediatrician to make sure they are up to date on their required vaccinations.

Woman in Mask

Vaccinations Matter

Vaccinations are essential services that protect not only the children being vaccinated, but others in their communities. Understandably, routine well-child visits, which usually include vaccinations, dropped dramatically during the early days of the pandemic.

Getting your child vaccinated between birth and six years protects them from 14 serious diseases, including measles, mumps, chickenpox, rotavirus, and polio. Vaccinating your child also helps protect your friends, family, and neighbors who cannot get vaccinated themselves because they are too young or have certain health problems.

Children are most vulnerable when they are born, and they depend on their parents to make the right choices to protect them. It is critical to stick to the vaccination schedule provided by your child’s doctor. No matter the age, preventing dangerous diseases outweighs any possible side effects such as slight pain, swelling, or low-grade fever that your child may experience. These are important steps toward building your child’s immune system during their critical developmental stages.

Routine vaccinations are also needed during the adolescent years. The CDC recommends four vaccines for almost all children ages 11-12: 

  • Meningococcal vaccine protects against meningococcal diseases, which are rare but spread by sharing food and drinks or kissing.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine offers strong protection against HPV, which can cause genital warts, and is associated with cervical cancer in women and other types of cancers in both men and women.
  • The collective Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) vaccine, a booster for the children’s DTaP vaccine, is necessary for older children because the effectiveness of the first vaccine wears off over time.
  • Annual influenza (flu) shots are recommended by doctors for all children six months and older, because the flu virus changes rapidly.

Classroom School

It’s the Law

Learning institutions from day care through college require immunizations. Anywhere children are together, there is a risk of infection for those who are not immunized or who may have compromised immune systems.

The state of California has an immunization law that requires children to have certain vaccinations to attend public and private elementary and secondary schools, childcare centers, family day care homes, nursery schools, day nurseries, and pre-kindergarten centers. Those facilities are required to enforce the law and keep immunization records.

Band aid

COVID-19 Vaccines

Children 12 and older are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Following clinical trials by Pfizer, the vaccine was determined to be safe and effective at preventing infection. The company is also starting trials on infants and young children. Evidence suggests that children can carry the virus just like adults and spread it to others. As of July, a majority of COVID-19 infections in the United States come from the Delta Variant, which is highly contagious and considered more dangerous than older strains.

There is a possibility that annual doses may be necessary to protect children from COVID-19, much like the flu vaccine. Parents are encouraged to consider the COVID-19 vaccination to safeguard their children’s health as they return to school in the fall.

Free Vaccinations at AltaMed

We encourage you to follow the immunizations schedule into adolescence, so your children are protected during every stage of their life. Here at AltaMed, all the vaccinations the CDC recommends are available free of cost! We provide childhood, adolescent, and HPV immunizations for patients from birth to 17 years old.

It’s more important than ever to stay safe and healthy. Call us at (888) 499-9303 to schedule an appointment with your provider to stay on track of your child’s immunization timeline.

AltaMed can provide information to you and your family about the best way to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19. To receive the latest news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, sign up today.