If You Haven’t Been Vaccinated Yet, Now’s the Time

Candid photo of Dr. Timothy Leahy, of UVM Medical Center, discussing the COVID-19 Delta variant.

Q: What is the delta variant?

The delta variant is a new version of COVID-19 that transmits much more easily from person to person, about twice as much as the original virus.

Q: Am I at risk if I haven’t been vaccinated?

Yes. We know that the delta variant can spread like wildfire, particularly through unvaccinated populations. Just a momentary interaction with an infected person is enough to spread this new variant of the COVID-19 virus. That means it’s really important to get protection with a vaccine.

Q: What if I have doubts about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines?

It’s been more than half a year since the first COVID-19 vaccines were administered, and we have vaccinated millions of people under historically unprecedented intense global scrutiny. Because of that, we have more information about this vaccine than most vaccines. We know the vaccine works. We know it works against the new variant. We know that it is safe.

Q: I didn’t get vaccinated and I’ve been fine. What’s the big deal if I just ride it out?

This fall we are going to see a pandemic of haves and have nots, and it’s already began. Those who have been vaccinated will be protected, especially against severe disease. For people who haven’t been vaccinated yet, there is an increasing chance that they could get sick with this life-threatening illness. I really worry about them. As delta spreads, that means it won’t be as safe for unvaccinated people to visit the people they love, they won’t be as safe going out to eat or doing lots of other things that vaccinated people will continue to be able to enjoy.

Q: What about breakthrough cases? I’ve heard of people getting sick even after they’ve been vaccinated.

COVID-19 vaccines are awesome, but they are not perfect. People with strong immune systems who have been vaccinated can — on rare occasions – get a mild case of COVID-19. But they are still much better off than someone who has not been vaccinated. If you look at places where vaccination rates are high, you can still see people being hospitalized for COVID-19 but the overwhelming majority of these patients are unvaccinated. It’s proof of how well COVID-19 vaccines work.

Q: What have you and your family done?

I was vaccinated against COVID-19 in December 2020 but didn’t really breathe easily until my entire family was vaccinated this year. It’s not perfect protection, but if we do get sick it will most likely be a minor illness. We are also glad to do our part to keep our neighbors safe. I would much rather face a mild case of COVID-19 than risk a life-threatening illness. I would much rather have a trivial pain in my shoulder than worry I helped make an older neighbor get sick. It’s a no brainer; I pick life with a vaccine.

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