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CDC: If You’re Vaccinated, You’re Safe From Delta Variant

June 30, 2021

Masked or unmasked? Even as the highly transmissible Delta variant spreads around the world, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reaffirmed its guidance Wednesday that anyone fully vaccinated remains safe and does not need a mask.

“If you are vaccinated, you are safe from the variants that are circulating here in the United States,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on NBC’s “Today.”

Uncertainty about the unvaccinated, however, has revived recommendations by Los Angeles County officials and the World Health Organization that everyone should wear a mask — including the fully vaccinated — when indoors in public. Both Pfizer and Moderna say their vaccines are effective against Delta and other COVID-19 variants. In a recent study, the Pfizer vaccine was 84 percent against Delta after two doses. Its efficacy dropped to 34 percent after only one dose. Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine is reportedly 60 percent effective against the Delta variant.

“When viruses reproduce,” said Dr. Ulysses Wu, Hartford HealthCare’s System Director of Infection Disease and Chief Epidemiologist, “they reproduce millions of variants a day. This one is probably 60 percent more effective in transmission as compared to other viruses.”

Connecticut, with 60.5 percent of its population fully vaccinated, ranks as the country’s fourth-most vaccinated state. The least-vaccinated states, such as Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Wyoming, could become vulnerable to regional breakouts this fall. Despite Connecticut’s high vaccination rate, Gov. Ned Lamont said this week he’s unwilling to lift the state’s mask mandate for the upcoming school year until federal health officials fully assess the Delta variant.

“Up until a couple of weeks ago,” he said, “you thought, ‘OK, we should be out of the woods by September.’”

The Delta variant has reached every state, including Connecticut, accounting for 20 percent of new COVID-19 infections in the United States. The CDC expects it to become the dominant coronavirus strain in the country.

State residents should continue to use their best judgement in crowded public places — keep a mask handy.

“If you don’t know if they’re vaccinated or not,” says Dr. Wu, “we should still be masking or social distancing.”