Delta variant concern prompts a new COVID-19 vaccination push

Coronavirus

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – Officials with the Fresno County Department of Public Health expressed concern Friday over the Delta variant of COVID-19, specifically for those who are unvaccinated.

The Delta variant is gaining traction in California – and in the Central Valley.

The health department would not release the exact number of cases of the Delta variant identified in Fresno County but says it was more than one.

“I’m very concerned, I think this is another perfect storm brewing among many different crises that we’ve had to weather with this pandemic,” Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra said. 

Fresno County Department of Public Health Senior Epidemiologist Dr. Stephanie Koch-Kumar says of the cases that have been identified, some people have shown symptoms and that they are now trying to establish if any of them have had to be hospitalized.

Koch-Kumar says the concern they have is based on data that they’re seeing internationally. 

“With the preliminary research out of the UK, what we are seeing is it is definitely increased transmission,” Koch-Kumar said, adding that there is an increased risk in hospitalization.

But Koch-Kumar says the good news is that the vaccine is proving to be effective against the Delta variant. 

“It’s still really effective at a) preventing disease overall, prevention symptomatic disease and even more so against hospitalizations,” Koch-Kumar said. 

Per the county’s latest data, 44% of Fresno County’s total population has been vaccinated with at least one dose, but that number is lower in parts of the county. It’s 29% in Coalinga, and it’s 30% in Tollhouse.

“Once it finds new fuel it will spread like a wildfire. And unfortunately, we just have a lot of unvaccinated individuals in the county. We’re working as hard as we can to get them protected, but we really need everybody to step up and go ahead and get their vaccines,” Vohra said.

Koch-Kumar added that preliminary analysis internationally is also showing that the variant is spreading more among younger people.

“We want to be careful to try to protect them by getting protection built up around them, to keep them safe from this new variant,” Koch-Kumar said.

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