The unvaccinated become an ‘incubation site’ for more COVID-19 variants

Now is the time to get vaccinated, Will County health experts stress

Dr. Atul Gupta, medical director of infection protection at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox, said in a video posted on the Silver Cross’ YouTube channel, that he is anticipating COVID-19 cases to rise in August due to the delta variant, even though cases in Will County are currently low.

But the concern is not just the delta variant, which is making unvaccinated people sick, according to Dr. Kalisha Hill, regional chief medical officer for AMITA Health Saint Joseph Medical Center.

Hill said the unvaccinated “become an incubation site for more variants” and some of these variants may even “impact people who are vaccinated.”

“Many businesses and facilities are starting to mandate vaccines,” Hill said. “So it’s always best to make that decision on your own and become vaccinated voluntarily.”

Hill said vaccinated people can test positive for COVID-19, although not frequently. Vaccinated people who test positive tend to be asymptomatic or have mild symptoms, she added.

But unvaccinated people, regardless of the variant, risk becoming very sick, Hill said. For those hoping for protection through herd immunity, Hill said that’s unfair to the immunocompromised.

“By not being vaccinated when you could be, you’re not only putting yourself at risk but you may be hurting someone else,” Hill said.

Those concerned about side effects from the vaccine – such as blood clots – should know that the risk of blood clots is 20 times higher from COVID-19 than the vaccines, Gupta said in the video. The risk of side effects from COVID-19 are “much, much worse” from COVID than any side effects from vaccines, he said in the video.

“Now is the time to get the vaccine,” Gupta said in the video. “If you have been hesitant, or just been waiting to see how the vaccines go, we’ve given the vaccine now to hundreds of millions of people in the United States alone. We have really, really great safety data.”

Here’s what you need to know about the delta variant, according to Gupta’s video.

· When a virus – any virus - infects someone and multiplies in that person, it mutates.

· Sometimes this mutation makes the virus more contagious and more deadly.

· The delta variant is about twice as contagious as the original virus.

· Data shows this delta variant causes more severe disease and higher rates of hospitalization.

· The people getting infected with the delta variant – about 90% of them – are mostly those who are not vaccinated.

· Symptoms of the delta variant include headache, stuffy nose, sore throat, shortness of breath cough fever, fatigue loss of smell and taste.

· Symptoms are more severe and easier to spread.

· Social distancing and facemasks still work, but vaccines give the best protection.

· The unvaccinated can still spread the delta variant to the vaccinated, especially if the vaccinated are elderly.

· Limit children’s exposure to the unvaccinated. Encourage kids to wear facemasks.

· Outside activity is the safest activity for kids.

· People in their 20s and 30s are being infected with the delta variant more than with the other variants.

As of Tuesday, Silver Cross had 10 people hospitalized with COVID-19 and one person awaiting test results, according to Silver Cross’ COVID dashboard. The dashboard also said three COVID-19 patients were in the intensive care unit and three were on ventilators.

AMITA Health Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet had 12 COVID-19 patients and AMITA Health Adventist Medical Center had two, according to Timothy Nelson, spokesperson for AMITA Health.

Denise  Unland

Denise M. Baran-Unland

Denise M. Baran-Unland is the features editor for The Herald-News in Joliet. She covers a variety of human interest stories. She also writes the long-time weekly tribute feature “An Extraordinary Life about local people who have died. She studied journalism at the College of St. Francis in Joliet, now the University of St. Francis.