Following the CDC’s announcement that the COVID-19 B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant has been classified as a Variant of Concern (VOC), the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is doubling down on its call for all eligible people to get vaccinated. This is especially important for young adults, who are part of the most unvaccinated age group nationwide and in South Carolina.
“In South Carolina, only 17,000 South Carolinians age 20-24 have received at least one shot, which is by far the lowest vaccination number for any eligible age group in the state. We need to change that,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, Public Health Director. “The Delta variant especially can be dangerous even for this age group. In addition, unvaccinated young adults could carry the variant and pass it to their parents, grandparents, and other vulnerable people in our communities.”
The Delta variant was first identified in India and carries a higher rate of transmission and a greater chance of severe disease than other COVID-19 variants. In South Carolina, four confirmed cases of the variant have been discovered. It is important to note that Delta variant testing is not a routine part of DHEC’s COVID-19 testing. Rather, randomly selected positive samples are tested via whole genome sequencing in labs. That means there are likely other undetected cases of the variant in the state.
As with other variants, complete vaccination is the number one way to stifle the impact of the Delta variant. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are approximately 33 percent effective against the Delta variant if a person has only received one of the two doses of the shots but 88 percent effective if a person has received both doses of the vaccine. England’s national public health organization has reported that Pfizer-BioNTech is 96 percent effective against hospitalizationscaused by the Delta variant. This data includes the two-week period after the second dose before someone is considered fully vaccinated, to allow for the vaccine to have time to be as effective as possible.
“The health threats due to variants significantly reduce when people get their vaccination,” Traxler added. “We understand COVID-19 vaccination comes with questions and concerns. We strongly urge all eligible folks to become educated with science-based, accurate facts and to make the decision to get these life-saving doses. If more people are not vaccinated and the virus is allowed to continue to spread, it could mutate further to the point of making the vaccines less effective, which we absolutely do not want.”