Despite a fairly dramatic uptick in recent COVID-19 cases, the Tompkins County Health Department maintains that vaccination remains the best tool to fight the new delta variant. Since January 2021, 0.2% of Tompkins County’s vaccinated population have been diagnosed with COVID. Currently, more than 67,000 residents have been fully vaccinated.
According to the Health Department and the CDC, vaccinated individuals continue to have very high levels of protection against severe disease, hospitalization and death from the virus. However, the recent increase of fully vaccinated individuals testing positive for COVID-19 mirrors national and state trends. The Health Department attributes local positive cases to indoor gatherings and domestic travel.
Since May, cases among vaccinated individuals have been found in 0.1% of the fully vaccinated population. Of the 315 new positive cases between May 1-July 30, 84 were in people who reported being fully vaccinated, or about 26.67% of cases.
According to the CDC, breakthrough cases of COVID in vaccinated individuals are to be expected, as no vaccines are 100% effective at preventing illness. It also states that there will be a small percentage of fully vaccinated people who still get sick, hospitalized or die from COVID-19. However, there is also evidence that shows vaccination makes illness less severe for those who are vaccinated and still get sick.
The best thing we can do to stop this pandemic and keep one another healthy and safe is to get vaccinated,” Dr. William Klepack, Tompkins County Health Department medical director, said. “The data we’ve shared, paired with our hospitalization data show that if you are fully vaccinated, you continue to have a very high degree of protection against severe disease and hospitalization. Positive cases in fully vaccinated individuals continue to be extremely uncommon; out of our entire vaccinated population, far less than one percent of individuals have tested positive for COVID-19. We are advising all residents to get vaccinated and wear a mask because we know those are the best tools to stop the disease from spreading. By doing what we know works, we can stop this pandemic and look forward to a return to normalcy.”
The CDC said variants of a virus are expected to occur as viruses change constantly through mutation. The delta variant spreads more quickly and causes more infections than other variants of the disease. All three vaccines available in the United States protect against delta and other known variants, according to the CDC.
All COVID-19 testing will work for variants, but they will not tell you which variant you have. The CDC maintains that the best way to slow the emergence of new variants is to reduce the spread of infection by taking measures to protect yourself, including getting the vaccine, wearing masks and practicing good hygiene.
The delta variant is currently the most predominant strain of the virus in the United States and is nearly twice as contagious as previous variants. The CDC said unvaccinated people remain the greatest concern as they pose the greatest risk of transmission.
For information on vaccination clinics in Tompkins County, visit https://tompkinscountyny.gov/health/covid19popup.