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Delta variant found in 5 Fort Bend residents, health officials confirm

Health officials said three of them had received only one dose of the COVID vaccine and one had not been vaccinated at all prior to the start of their symptoms.

FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas — Five residents were confirmed to have tested positive for the delta variant of COVID-19, according to the Fort Bend County Health & Human Services.

Health officials said three of the residents had received only one dose of the COVID vaccine and one had not been vaccinated at all prior to the start of their symptoms. The vaccine status of the fifth resident has not been determined.

Although symptoms were present, no one was hospitalized, health officials said.

Fort Bend health officials stressed the importance of getting vaccinated.

“These cases underscore the importance of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19, especially with the delta variant becoming more prevalent in the US. Current research shows that two doses of the mRNA vaccines are over 80 percent effective against the delta variant” Dr. Jacquelyn Minter, director of FBCHHS, said. “The best protection that we have against this disease is to be fully vaccinated. If you are not fully vaccinated, we encourage you to wear your mask and to maintain a physical distance from others while in public.”

Things are going back to normal for a lot people, but the danger surrounding COVID-19 has not gone away as the delta variant of the virus spreads fast.

“What is key to say is that all of the patients we’re seeing with the delta variant, almost all of them are unvaccinated,” Dr. Wesley Long, with Houston Methodist Hospital, said.

Dr. Long says delta is the most transmissible variant he’s seen. He says the number of patients who have gotten sick from delta is still small, but it has the potential to be more severe.

“Just having one shot is really insufficient protecting against the delta variant,” he said.

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Linda Yancey agrees. She says getting the first dose of the vaccine adds just a small layer of protection..

“That doesn’t make you bulletproof. You have to wait that full time, two weeks after the second dose, three weeks after the J&J before you become fully protected,” she said.

Experts say it could take up to six weeks to become fully protected if you start today.

They urge people to start the clock of protection against the virus as soon as possible by getting the first shot.

“It is very, very rare to see someone who has got fully vaccinated with symptomatic COVID. The vaccines are highly protective against even the delta strain,” Dr. Yancey said.

People who are unvaccinated or just have one dose are most at risk.

Health experts urge them to continue taking safety precautions like social distancing and wearing a mask until they get the vaccine.

What should I know about the delta variant?

It’s a version of the coronavirus that has been found in more than 80 countries since it was first detected in India. It got its name from the World Health Organization, which names notable variants after letters of the Greek alphabet.

Viruses constantly mutate and most changes aren't concerning. But there is a worry that some variants might evolve enough to be more contagious, cause more severe illness or evade the protection that vaccines provide.

Experts say the delta variant spreads more easily because of mutations that make it better at latching onto cells in our bodies. In the United Kingdom, the variant is now responsible for 90% of all new infections. In the U.S., it represents 20% of infections, and health officials say it could become the country’s dominant type as well.

It's not clear yet whether the variant makes people sicker since more data needs to be collected, said Dr. Jacob John, who studies viruses at the Christian Medical College at Vellore in southern India.

Studies have shown that the available vaccines work against variants, including the delta variant.

Researchers in England studied how effective the two-dose AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines were against it, compared with the alpha variant that was first detected in the U.K.

The vaccines were protective for those who got both doses, but were less so among those who got one dose.

It's why experts say it's important to be fully vaccinated. And it's why they say making vaccines accessible globally is so critical.

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