By Nina Huang
Northwest Asian Weekly
Get vaccinated and continue to mask up and social distance, is the guidance from Seattle-area medical professionals.
In a recent press briefing, Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, health officer with Public Health–Seattle & King County, said that COVD-19 hospitalization cases occur mostly in unvaccinated people.
“Vaccines are effective to make it less likely for people to catch COVID-19. Vaccines are the single most important thing to protect yourself and others,” he said.
Christina Bradic, spokesperson for Public Health – Seattle & King County echoed that point. She said 94% of cases are among people who are unvaccinated.
Vaccinated people have a very high level of protection against COVID19, and some studies have shown that there are 88% protections even against the Delta variant.
Washington’s new mask mandate took effect on Aug. 23—residents are required to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. Duchin recommended people wear a well-fitting and well-constructed face mask or respirator.
In addition to masking up, he also stressed the importance of improving indoor quality, ventilation and filtration to reduce the transfer of COVID-19 indoors. The disease transmits through the air and builds up in spaces. It increases in places where people are singing and shouting, for example. Opening windows to maximize movement of air is encouraged. He also advised folks to upgrade filtration when possible and consider the need for portable HEPA filter units.
Delta variant and symptoms
Duchin said that the Delta variant has thrown the world a nasty curveball and changed the course of the pandemic.
“It’s much more contagious than the early variants and the virus is more likely to spread. Delta can cause breakthrough infections in a small proportion of vaccinated people.”
He also added that if one is exposed to COVID-19 in King County, it’s likely the Delta variant, and that one would need the complete series of vaccines to be protected.
The Delta variant causes some overlapping symptoms with previous variants including a runny nose, fever, sneezing, and congestion. Duchin said he is seeing more of a sore throat with the Delta variant. He also mentioned that there’s no data indicating severity of symptoms in children to be different from earlier variants.
“Do vaccines work? Unequivocally yes. If you’re not vaccinated, then you’re at high risk of spreading infections to others.”
King County announced on Aug. 24 that it is the first large county in the United States to get at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to at least 70% of all eligible age and racial groups. While a remarkable achievement, Duchin said there are still too many eligible and unprotected.
In addition, he said that COVID-19 testing remains a vital strategy to limit the spread. Updated guidance on testing recommends anyone with mild symptoms should get tested as soon as possible, whether you’re vaccinated or not.
If one tests positive for COVID-19, they should be isolated from others for 10 days. And even if you test negative and don’t have symptoms, but have been exposed to someone with the virus, it’s best to monitor for 14 days after exposure.
With the Alpha variant, symptoms usually appeared about five to six days after exposure, but Duchin said that Delta symptoms seem to show after three to four days.
“Patients become contagious more quickly after exposure and can spread more rapidly.”
Bradic also wrote that taking Tylenol can help alleviate symptoms, but it won’t fight the virus. Like with any illness, it is important to rest, stay hydrated, and wait it out. If symptoms are severe or you have questions, contact your doctor.
Bradic added that no vaccine provides 100% protection against a disease. The best way to prevent COVID-19 is to mask in indoor places and still take precautions. Many positive cases report eating in restaurants or bars, attending large social gatherings, or out of state travel.
Dr. Deepa Yerram, physician and interim Chief Medical Officer of International Community Health Services (ICHS), said that 99.9% of all COVID-19-related deaths are among the unvaccinated. 20% of admitted cases are people who have had the vaccines.
For vaccinated people who contract COVID-19, they’ll have much milder symptoms.
“It will feel like a nasty case of the flu, but nowhere close to ending up in a ventilator in a hospital,” she described.
Vaccines and fertility
Yerram said that the Center for Disease Control put out a notice quelling common myths and vaccines and infertility was one of them.
“There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines cause pregnancy problems including the development of placenta, because we have that info, MRNA vaccines don’t go into DNA, and don’t modify DNA. It doesn’t go anywhere close to the DNA in your cells. Given all that, you can safely conclude that vaccines will have effects on childbirth and/or pregnancy, not only true for females but also true for males.”
Yerram shared that three pregnant healthcare providers at ICHS got the vaccine and went on to give birth to healthy babies.
She said that as medical professionals, it’s important to do as you preach.
Nina can be reached at email@example.com.
This health series is made possible by funding from the Washington Department of Health, which has no editorial input or oversight of this content.