What you need to know about the delta variant

What you need to know about the delta variant

The delta variant is now the predominant strain of SARS-CoV2 in the United States. It is more contagious and spreading quickly, especially in areas of the country with low vaccination rates. In response to this, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) changed their mask recommendations on July 27. This may be confusing and scary for parents of children who are not yet vaccinated. Here are answers to common questions about how to keep your family safe.


Do vaccines work against the delta variant?

Yes! Vaccines still protect against death and severe disease even from the delta variant. The vaccine is absolutely saving lives. Currently, the deaths attributed to COVID-19 are in unvaccinated individuals. Vaccines also protect against infection. We are, however, seeing breakthrough infections in vaccinated individuals. This means protection for mild infection is not 100%. If you are vaccinated and get infected, you can still transmit the virus to others. That risk, however, is significantly lower compared to unvaccinated individuals. This is why the CDC now advises everyone to wear a mask indoors, even if vaccinated, in areas of the country with substantial or high COVID-19 activity. As of July 28, Cabell County was categorized as substantial transmission, with several neighboring counties with high transmission.


Is the delta variant more severe in children?

We don’t really know. Data does not necessarily point to more severe disease, yet children are at high risk of getting infected because the delta variant is more contagious. Although COVID-19 is milder in children compared to adults, they also can have severe disease as well as a severe condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). Children under 12 remain the most vulnerable because they are not yet able to get vaccinated.


What can we do to protect our children?

First, if you and other adults and adolescents in your home are not yet vaccinated, please get COVID-19 vaccines at any convenient location for free as soon as possible. Second, always wear masks indoors. Third, avoid overcrowded spaces. Similarly, children under 12 should keep masking and social distancing. Try not to take your children to overcrowded indoor spaces. If you do, they should wear masks and wash hands frequently. For children younger than two who cannot wear masks safely, limit their exposure to individuals in an indoor setting. If they are indoors, it should only be in spaces where all other individuals are masked.


We are hopeful that we will have vaccines approved for children under 12 by the end of the calendar year. Until then, parents should continue to enforce masking and social distancing to keep our children safe. If you have any further questions or concerns, do not hesitate to consult with your child’s pediatrician for further guidance.

This article originally appears in the August 8, 2021, edition of the Herald Dispatch


Mariana Lanata, MD

Dr. Mariana Lanata is a fellowship-trained pediatric infectious disease specialist and assistant professor of pediatrics at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.