Hamilton County health officials weight in on delta variant

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – With the Delta variant quickly sweeping the globe, Hamilton County health officials are concerned.

“We’ve been a little more tolerant of letting things get bad before we intervene, and I suspect that that’s the way that this will go,” says Dr. Jay Sizemore, Medical Director of Infection Prevention at Erlanger.

Although more of the country is getting vaccinated, Dr. Sizemore says that hot spots across the southern US will be the most vulnerable to the variant.

“In Massachusetts where 80 percent of the population’s been vaccinated, you’re probably going to have less of an issue with the Delta variant,” says Dr. Sizemore.

The news comes as Pfizer has announced that they will be pursuing additional booster shots to strengthen their vaccine’s effectiveness.

Sizemore says it might be too early to tell if it’s needed.

“When and if a booster looks like it might be needed, I think the vaccine manufacturers will be ready to go,” he says.

When reached for comment on the variant, the Hamilton County Health Department responded in a written statement. It reads:

“The Delta variant is a concern because it is highly contagious and Hamilton County vaccination rates remain low. The most effective step to decreasing the risk of another surge is to vaccinate as many people as possible, as transmission is significantly reduced after being vaccinated.”

Dr. Sizemore agrees that the focus should be on raising Hamilton County’s vaccination rate.

“I think a more pertinent strategy right now, rather than focusing on booster shots will be continuing to focus on getting more people vaccinated. I think we’re going to get more bang for our buck with that strategy,” says Dr. Sizemore.

So far, the CDC and WHO don’t recommend additional booster shots for the vaccine, but as the world watches for what could be a dangerous Fall, that all could change.

Categories: Chattanooga, COVID-19, Featured, Hamilton County, Health, Local News