Ask Miss Rona: Delta Variant

Ask Miss Rona is a Q&A series started on Public Health’s Instagram to respond to community questions related to different topic areas of COVID-19. Questions come in from the public and are answered by subject matter experts at Public Health. Check out our Instagram at @kcpubhealth for more of our Miss Rona content.
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For this edition of Miss Rona, we answered your questions about the Delta variant. Stay tuned this week and the next for more questions from the public about vaccine booster shots, breakthrough cases, masks, and more! 

Delta variant: why is it contagious? Do symptoms look the same? 

When people are infected with the Delta variant, they produce a thousand times more virus and are more contagious for longer periods. The high viral load (amount of virus found in a test sample) and longer infectious period makes the Delta variant spread more than twice as easily from one person to another, compared with earlier strains! 

The latest data shows that vaccinated people who are infected with the Delta variant can transmit the virus to others, but we don’t know to what extent that happens.

We plan to have a blog later this week about the Delta variant! 

If you get the Delta variant, the symptoms are the same as for all COVID-19 infections, and can range from mild to severe: 

  • fever/chills 
  • cough 
  • difficulty breathing 
  • fatigue 
  • body aches 
  • headache 
  • new loss of taste or smell 
  • sore throat  
  • runny nose 
  • nausea/vomiting 
  • diarrhea 

Vaccinated people are much less likely to have severe symptoms. 

How dangerous is Delta during pregnancy? (I was fully vaccinated with Pfizer in March) 

We’re currently learning that the Delta variant is way more contagious than other variants for everyone, not just pregnant people.  

However, the CDC reported one important finding affecting fully vaccinated pregnant people who get infected with COVID-19:  

“Although the overall risk of severe illness is low, fully vaccinated pregnant people and recently pregnant people are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 when compared to fully vaccinated non-pregnant people.” 

The leading professional organizations for obstetricians and gynecologists strongly recommend vaccination for pregnant people.

If I get the variant, can I spread it even though I’m vaccinated? 

Yes. But vaccination makes it less likely for someone to catch and spread COVID-19.  

When vaccinated people do become infected, their illness is typically not serious (they may not even have symptoms).  

New data show that when vaccinated people catch the Delta variant of COVID-19, they can be contagious.

I heard on the news that Delta is “as contagious as chicken pox.” Is this true?

Delta spreads more than twice as easily from one person to another, compared with earlier strains! When people are infected with the Delta variant, they produce a thousand times more virus.  

Like chicken pox, it is a very contagious virus. 

Regarding Delta, is it safe for unvaccinated children to be unmasked indoors with vaccinated folks?

To protect unvaccinated children, the State of Washington created a mask order that states: 

  • Children 5 years or older are required to wear a mask in indoor public settings. 
  • Children who are 2 to 4 years old are strongly recommended to wear a mask in public settings (with the assistance and supervision of an adult). 

Originally published on August 3, 2021