Austin Public Health monitoring Delta variant of COVID-19

Austin Public Health says that it is monitoring the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 in Central Texas.

The Delta variant (B.1.617.2) has now been detected in all 50 states, including Texas. APH says that while there are currently no confirmed cases of the Delta variant in Travis County, the spread is very likely due to confirmed cases in surrounding counties.

Williamson County and Cities Health District said last week it learned that the first three cases of the Delta variant of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Williamson County. The variant was discovered and confirmed through lab testing in June.

APH says that the Delta variant is of particular concern because it is more transmissible and deadly than the original virus as it has mutated to become more effective at latching onto cells in the body. APH is currently working with the state health department to expand testing.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are proving effective against the Delta variant, making it unlikely to pose much risk for severe disease or death among individuals who have been fully vaccinated. However, the vaccines are less effective in protecting people who have only had one dose. 

Johnson & Johnson is reportedly still awaiting study results, but there are early indications that it too will provide protection as it has with other variants.

Individuals should complete their vaccination series to ensure the fullest protection, says APH. A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second shot for Pfizer and Moderna, and two weeks after the single-shot Johnson & Johnson.

Prior to reaching the fully vaccinated status, individuals should continue to wear a mask, watch their distance, and wash hands when out in public, says APH.

According to Texas Department of State Health Services, 69% of Travis County residents 12 years and older have received at least one vaccine, and 60% are fully vaccinated, making it one of the leading counties for vaccination rates.

While the Delta variant could fuel outbreaks, especially in communities where vaccination rates are low, the chances of a major outbreak are unlikely. New variants could cause the pandemic to drag on and pose a risk to people who are not protected by the vaccines, says APH.

As a reminder, COVID-19 vaccinations are free, and do not require insurance or identification. Those looking to get vaccinated can text their zip code to 438829 (822862 for Spanish) to see where the closest vaccination sites are. You can also go online to help locate COVID-19 vaccine providers in your area.

For additional COVID-19 information and updates in Austin-Travis County, click here.
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