Doctors express concern as Delta variant rises across the country

SPOKANE, Wash. — Washington is closing in on 70% vaccination rate and will hit that mark any day now, and while that means the state can fully reopen, there is growing concern surrounding the rising number of cases of the Delta variant.

According to the latest numbers released by the Department of Health, the high number of vaccinations seen in Washington is good news, because the Delta variant is most likely to crop up where people aren’t getting the shot.

“I know it’s spreading faster, and certainly the patients were seeing being hospitalized much younger,” said Dr. Michael Anderson, chief medical officer at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health.

The Delta variant on the rise in nearly every state in the country, and is now poised to be the dominant strain of the coronavirus by fall. At the end of April, it only made up less than 2% of all COVID-19 cases in the United State, but now it’s sitting around 10%.

“There’s about twice the risk of hospitalization compared to, like, the Alpha variant. It does appear to be not only more transmissible, but also more virulent,” said Dr. Mary Fairchock, MultiCare’s pediatric infectious disease specialist.

Health experts say the best way to prevent the spread of the variant is to simply get the shot. The cases of COVID-19 now seen in the state are starting to sicken much younger people, mostly those between ages 35 to 49, but those younger demographics are still far behind the vaccination rates of older groups, making it frustrating for doctors.

“We try not to be judgmental, but I’ll tell you we know there was a solution to this pandemic and there’s still a significant portion of our population that are purposefully choosing not to be vaccinated,” said Dr. Anderson.

While the state has been inching closer to the 70% vaccination rate, the good news is, the vaccines available to us work.

“There’s data that the MRNA vaccine are still very effective against the Delta strain. I think AstraZeneca is a little less effective, which isn’t licensed in the United States, anyway,” said Fairchock.

According to the Department of Health there have been 206 cases of the Delta variant detected in the state since March 22.

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