Fully vaccinated people protected against Delta variant, but Houston doctor urges caution

Friday, July 23, 2021
Fully vaccinated people are protected against Delta variant
For the first time since February, data over the last week shows statewide and hospitalizations and new cases are up. But even if you're vaccinated, health experts urge you to be cautious.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- In the state of Texas, the COVID-19 positivity rate is now at 10%. Just a month ago, on June 16, the positivity rate was 2.85%.

In fact, the state hasn't seen a positivity rate of 10% since late February. However, the positivity rate is still lower than it was in January when rates were near 21%.

SEE ALSO: As delta variant spreads, Texas' COVID test positivity rate exceeds 10% for 1st time since February

Hospitalizations statewide are also seeing a significant increase month over month. Fortunately, Texas hospitalizations are still down 79% when you compare mid-July to January numbers. Doctors credit the uptick in cases to the highly transmissible Delta variant.

Due to the increase in cases, do you need to wear a mask indoors if you're fully vaccinated?

Dr. James McDeavitt, executive vice president and Dean of Clinical Affairs at Baylor College of Medicine, said if you are fully vaccinated, you are protected from the severe disease. Still, he does recommend people avoid indoor, crowded places.

"When you walk into an environment, pause, look at it, ask yourself, 'Does this seem safe? Am I going to be spending prolonged periods of time face-to-face, elbow-to-elbow, shoulder-to-shoulder with other people?' If you are, leave or put your mask on and try to maintain your distance," said McDeavitt.

If I'm vaccinated, should I be concerned about getting COVID, given the highly transmissible Delta variant?

McDeavitt said all the data shows if you're vaccinated, you're highly unlikely to get sick or end up at a hospital.

"The data's a little bit mixed in how protected you are against coronavirus," he said. "The Israeli data indicates you're probably 60% to 70% protected instead of the 92-93% that we used to cite. So, that may mean you are more likely to catch the virus, vaccinated, but if you do catch it, you're unlikely to get really sick."

SEE ALSO: 13 Investigates areas with more COVID-19 deaths and fewer vaccines

Should you be concerned about breakthrough cases?

McDeavitt said we are seeing more breakthrough cases than before, but again, the vaccine will protect you against severe disease(s).

He said if you are taking a two-dose vaccine, make sure you have that second dose. It's critical to ensure protection against the Delta variant.

"If you're vaccinated, I would not be overly concerned about it because, again, all the data indicates that you're unlikely to get critically ill," McDeavitt said.

SEE ALSO: 99.75% of Houstonians who died of COVID weren't vaccinated, doctors say

Do I need a booster shot?

McDeavitt said that at this point, a booster shot seems premature.

"We really haven't demonstrated that that immunity has started to wane substantially yet so the immunity still is pretty good," said McDeavitt. "The other point I'd make is the Pfizer booster is the same vaccine you got the last time. It's no different. It's not manufactured against the Delta variant."

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