Vaccinated? Those sniffles may mean you can spread COVID-19

You can still spread COVID-19 if you’re vaccinated, so don’t dismiss allergy or cold symptoms — you could make unvaccinated children and others very sick.

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You can still spread COVID-19 after you’ve been fully vaccinated, so be mindful that your cold or allergy symptoms may be a mild breakthrough case that can be spread to unvaccinated children and others — and may make them very sick.

“Masking, social distancing and hand-washing are still recommended. If you have symptoms that could be COVID-19, stay home. Go out to get tested, but don’t put others at risk,” said Paul S. Schulz, M.D., an infectious diseases specialist with Norton Infectious Diseases Institute and Norton Healthcare’s system epidemiologist.

People may be assuming that any upper respiratory tract symptom isn’t COVID-19 because they’ve been vaccinated. But it could be a breakthrough case, so staying home, wearing a mask if around others and keeping your hands clean are steps you can take if you aren’t feeling well.

The COVID-19 vaccines are free, have been safe for millions around the world and are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death.

The delta variant, a mutation of the virus and which accounts for an estimated 83% of new cases nationally, is spreading rapidly among those who aren’t fully vaccinated. The vast majority of COVID-19 patients recently hospitalized around the country have not been vaccinated.

The number of adults and children admitted to Norton Healthcare hospitals has been significantly lower than it was late last year and early this year, but has been rising recently.

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The delta variant is a new threat if you haven’t been vaccinated. It is spreading quickly.

Vaccines are free and have been safe and effective for millions around the world.

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Children under 12 aren’t eligible to be vaccinated, and among older children, vaccination rates have been lower than adults, with appointment requests for kids declining.

As viruses spread they mutate, and some of those variants can spread more easily than others. So far, they haven’t mutated to the point that the vaccines are ineffective.

A new mutation known as the lambda variant has been making its way around South America. It isn’t known yet if the lambda variant spreads more easily or causes more severe disease.

“If more people get vaccinated, then you get less disease, less replication — theoretically, less variation and less concern about the future of this virus,” Dr. Schulz said.

If you think you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, the best time to get tested is five to seven days later. Within only three days of exposure, tests tend to be less accurate.

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