About the COVID-19 Delta Variant

The latest information about COVID-19 has been heavily focused on the Delta variant, which is now the predominant strain of the virus globally. Earlier this year, COVID cases in the United States were declining as more people got vaccinated. With the new dominance of the Delta variant, COVID cases are spiking nationwide and putting severe strain on hospitals. The amount of information surrounding the virus and how to protect yourself is constantly evolving and can be overwhelming. So here are some important points regarding this more dangerous Delta variant.

The Delta variant is more contagious – The Delta variant is significantly more contagious than earlier strains of the virus, about twice as much as previous variants, and causes more infections.

It seems to cause more severe symptoms – Though COVID symptoms are the same, the Delta variant appears to be causing worse symptoms at a faster rate. Studies also suggest that patients infected with the Delta variant are more likely to be hospitalized than with previous strains.

Unvaccinated people are at greatest risk – Because this strain is more contagious and volatile, those who have not been vaccinated are more likely to contract the virus, suffer more severe symptoms, and spread it to others over a longer period of time. Though there are rare cases of vaccinated people getting COVID infections, their symptoms are far less severe and they are contagious for less time.

The CDC recommends masks for EVERYONE in crowded settings and public indoor spaces – For areas with substantial or high transmission, which is currently the vast majority of the United States, the CDC recommends that everyone, including vaccinated people, utilize masks in crowded environments and indoor public settings. You can view Delta variant hot spots and transmission rates on the CDC website.

Vaccination is the best defense against COVID-19 – Even though there have been rare cases of vaccinated people being infected, their symptoms have been milder than for unvaccinated patients. Vaccines are still widely available and FREE for everyone age 12 or older, even without insurance.

Find out where to get vaccinated by calling 833-422-4255 or visiting myturn.ca.gov.

Learn more about COVID-19, vaccines, and the Delta variant at www.cdc.gov.

Be Mindful with your Vaccination Card

As more and more people are getting vaccinated, many are excited to share the news with everyone. Others want to protect the document like a precious commodity. But once you have that bright white card in your hand, several sources are warning against doing many of the things that may be your first impulse. Find out what you shouldn’t be doing, and why, below.

Don’t post pictures of your vaccination card on social media.

In the era of social media and social distancing, it is hard to resist sharing any news with your social networks on sites like Facebook. However, government organizations have warned against sharing pictures of your vaccination card online. While it may seem harmless, your vaccination card does have sensitive information. In addition to your name and birthday, it may also include medically sensitive information that could be used to track down even more details about you. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns that “identity theft works like a puzzle, made up of pieces of personal information” – the more small details about you that scammers have access to, the more likely they are to have the information they need to fraudulently claim your tax refund, open new accounts in your name, or commit other forms of identity theft.

Don’t laminate your card right away.

Many of us are anticipating that having proof of vaccination will be almost as important as ID in the near future, so it makes sense that you may want to laminate yours to help keep it safe. Though some companies are offering free lamination, you should probably hold off and consider a few things beforehand. First, double check your information on the card – is all of your personal information correct? If you received a 2-dose vaccine, have both does been documented? Second, make sure you have a backup. Just in case your card is lost or damaged, it is good practice to keep a copy – like a photocopy or a picture on your phone.

You Could Be a Millionaire Just by Getting Vaccinated!

As part of California’s initiative to get as many people vaccinated as possible, the state has announced an incentive program called Vax for the Win. The program includes a lottery for California residents who have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Vaccinated Californians are eligible to win up to $1.5 million!

What are the prizes?

Ten winners will be selected to receive $1,500,000 each. Thirty winners will receive $50,000 each.

When are the winners selected?

The drawings will occur on two days – June 4 and June 11. Fifteen winners for the $50,000 prize will be selected on June 4, 2021. On June 11, fifteen more winners will be chosen for $50,000 and ten winners will be selected for the $1,500,000 prize!

How do I enter?

Vaccination is your entry! Just by getting your vaccine, you are automatically entered into the lottery. If you’ve only gotten your first dose, you are still eligible.

Still need a vaccine?

There’s still time! Vaccines are free to everyone and beginning May 27, the first two million Californians to start and complete their vaccination will receive a $50 gift card!

For more information and full terms and conditions, visit the Vax for the Win website.

After You’ve Been Vaccinated

So you’ve gotten your vaccine. Congratulations! You’re probably tempted to immediately have large meetups with friends and family you haven’t seen in months, get out of the house as much as possible, and ditch that uncomfortable mask forever. But before switching back to the same behaviors from pre-COVID days, remember that we are still learning about COVID-19 and how the vaccines work in real world conditions. For you this means that while some things have changed, other aspects of our “new normal” remain the same.

Even after being vaccinated, you should continue practicing health and safety guidelines when in public or around people from multiple households, including social distancing and, yes, wearing those darn masks. While we are still learning about how vaccines impact the spread of COVID-19, think of them like an extra layer of armor against the virus – you are more protected, but not completely invincible. No one enjoys the all of the extra safety precautions that have been imposed during the pandemic. But the fastest way out is through, so it is imperative that we all continue doing what we can to slow and prevent the spread of the virus, including maintaining safety precautions after being vaccinated.

Recipients are not considered fully vaccinated until 2 weeks after receiving the full dosage – 2 weeks after your second shot for Pfizer and Moderna, or 2 weeks after your single shot for Johnson & Johnson.

Things you should continue to do:
– Take safety precautions like before, including wearing a mask, socially distancing, and avoiding crowds while in public, gathering with people from multiple households, visiting with those at increased risk.

– Avoid domestic and international travel.

– Follow safety guidance at work.

– Watch for COVID-19 symptoms

There are some new things you CAN do. While the vaccine isn’t a free-for-all pass to go back to how things were, you can make some changes that feel closer to “normal”. If you’ve been fully vaccinated, you can:

– Gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without masks.

– Gather indoors with unvaccinated people from 1 other household without masks, unless any of them have and increased risk, or are in contact with those who do.

– If you have been exposed to COVID-19 and do not have symptoms, you do not need to quarantine or get tested, unless you live in a group setting.

What we’re still learning:
While we know that the vaccines are effective in preventing COVID-19, we’re still learning about different applications in real life, like how effective they are against variants of the virus, how well it keeps people from spreading the disease, and how long the vaccine actually protects people. With these things in mind, please remember that keeping you and everyone around you safe is the top priority.

Information about COVID-19 and the vaccines are constantly evolving. To monitor updates and learn more about the vaccines, visit cdc.gov. To make an appointment visit myturn.ca.gov. You can also make appointments directly through some vaccination sites. To find vaccination sites near you, check out vaccinefinder.org.