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Coping with the Delta Variant

August 6, 2021 | AONN+ Blog | COVID-19
Featuring:
Lillie D. Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, HON-ONN-CG
Lillie D. Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, HON-ONN-CG
Editor-in-Chief, JONS; Co-Founder, AONN+; University Distinguished Service Professor of Breast Cancer, Professor of Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Co-Developer, Work Stride-Managing Cancer at Work, Johns Hopkins Healthcare Solutions

Just as we were all getting excited about the United States gaining control over the pandemic, a surge in cases of the coronavirus delta variant is being seen, especially among unvaccinated people.

What does this mean for your patients currently in treatment and what does it mean for you?

Don’t put your masks away in a drawer yet. We will likely be masked up for some time to come. The CDC is urging people, whether vaccinated or not, to wear masks when indoors with others. Vaccinated individuals were never 100% protected, but may have assumed they were. Read the science, there is around 95% coverage for those who got the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccines. Though the incidence of infections is less than 1% for those who have been vaccinated and tested, such individuals can still spread the virus to others. We need to be vigilant and promote mask-wearing.

Our biggest challenge is still the same—getting unvaccinated people vaccinated. Until we reach the goal of more than 75% being fully vaccinated, we will continue to live with this pandemic. The CDC has determined that the delta variant of the virus is as contagious as the chicken pox. That means you don’t have to be standing next to someone infected and breathing on you to get infected yourself. You can be in a room with some distance between you, or touch objects that an infected person touches, and catch it.

It will be very disappointing if we have to resume lockdown status, preventing family members from being with inpatients and with patients coming to clinics. The psychosocial impact is mentally unhealthy.

We know masks work. We know the vaccines work in preventing serious illness and deaths. Hopefully the FDA will get full approval soon for the vaccines that have been administered, and some of the fears of the unvaccinated individuals will quiet down and enable them to do the right thing for their themselves, their family and friends, and for the strangers they encounter.

Depression has skyrocketed as this pandemic has continued beyond a year and a half. Just as people were feeling better and venturing out of their homes resuming some semblance of normalcy, they are returning to their homes again and avoiding human contact. This can take a serious toll on people and fan the flame of clinical depression in a major way.

Science is the answer. Following the science is the solution. Though everyone wants concrete answers, this is the first time the world has encountered this new virus. There is new information being learned all the time, some of it disappointing. We still must follow the science because using accurate evidence-based information is how we will get control finally over this pandemic. It’s the only way.

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