Vaccines, Seniors, and the Delta Variant

The main story in U.S. Covid-19 news this summer is the Delta variant. We’ve shared news about the growing threat posed by Delta in several recent posts, including Seniors, Vaccines, Variants: Three Takeaways, San Diego Seniors and the Delta Variant, and How New Variants Impact San Diego Seniors. Delta continues to spread unchecked through the unvaccinated in many states, and experts are predicting a fall surge and a return to masks and other safety measures. Seniors and caregivers in San Diego need to monitor the Delta variant’s progression toward Southern California to prepare for what comes next.

The primary concern for seniors and caregivers in San Diego is that residents who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated account for more than 99% of Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations, and death in 2021. Further, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency reported on July 8 that more than 140,000 San Diegans who received one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine failed to get the second dose within the recommended 21-day or 28-day period. Studies continue to prove that partial vaccination – only one dose of a two-dose vaccine – is not sufficient protection against the increasingly aggressive variants.

Why are public health officials so concerned?

  • According to NPR’s latest Coronavirus update, “The highly contagious delta variant now accounts for more than 51% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. …[I]n parts of the U.S., the delta strain accounts for more than 80% of new infections, including some Midwestern states such as Missouri, Kansas and Iowa. The delta variant is already causing 74.3% of infections in Western states, including Utah and Colorado, and 58.8% of infections in Southern states such as Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma, according to CDC estimates.”
  • CNN Health reported on July 8 that “As of [July 7], less than half of the US population — 47.6% — was fully vaccinated. The percentage of eligible people who were fully vaccinated — ages 12 and up — was 55.6%.”
  • Per the website, on July 7, California was 60 percent fully vaccinated, and an additional 9.4 percent of the population was partially vaccinated. In San Diego County, 1,893,523 residents out of an eligible 2,802,581 were fully vaccinated, leaving 313,945 residents who had received just one dose out of two. This includes the more than 140,000 mentioned above who are overdue for their second shot.

The takeaway for those providing and receiving in home care in San Diego is that vaccination is more important than ever. Remember that vaccination doesn’t prevent infection, it just reduces the severity of the illness that results. Slow vaccination rates elsewhere in the country will continue to provide fertile ground for the virus to develop more variants, and one of them may eventually succeed in beating the vaccines. In the meantime, “Dr. Anthony Fauci said people may want to consider wearing masks … even if they are fully inoculated. ‘For example, someone who’s an elderly person who may not actually have a full robust protection, even though the protection is very, very high, or someone with an underlying condition’ may still want to wear a mask, he said.” LA County recommended last week that all residents, whether vaccinated or not, should wear masks indoors in public places.

Seniors, family, and companion caregivers can protect themselves and their loved ones by urging everyone they know to get the full vaccine and continue – or resume – wearing masks and taking precautions against these unpredictable and dangerous variants.

To make a vaccine appointment for yourself or help a friend make one for themselves, please consult the resources we list on our blog “How Do Seniors Make Vaccination Appointments in San Diego?