Skip main navigation

Military Health System

Clear Your Browser Cache

This website has recently undergone changes. Users finding unexpected concerns may care to clear their browser's cache to ensure a seamless experience.

New COVID-19 Delta Variant: What You Need to Know to Stay Safe

Image of Military personnel receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Navy Hospitalman Marissa Salomon administers a vaccine to a service member at Naval Hospital Jacksonville’s off-site location for COVID-19 vaccines. Salomon said: “It’s so important that the military population gets a vaccine to keep everyone safe and mission ready.” (Photo by: Deidre Smith, Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Florida)

A new and increasingly dangerous variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is rapidly sweeping across the globe. This new variant appears to spread faster, cause more severe disease and is more likely to result in hospitalization.

Also, younger people appear to be more susceptible to the new strain, known as the Delta variant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

But the good news is that the existing vaccines now available to everyone over the age of 12 have proven to be highly effective in preventing the Delta variant as well as other versions of COVID-19.

"We know that vaccines work," said Dr. Margaret Ryan, medical director of the Defense Health Agency's Immunization Healthcare Division.

Currently, there are three vaccines authorized for use by the Food and Drug Administration for COVID-19: The Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines require two doses, and J&J/Janssen is a one-dose vaccine.

The Delta variant is spreading quickly and will likely soon become the dominant strain within the United States.

It's a wake-up call for those people who think that they don't need to get a vaccine because they've successfully avoided the COVID-19 disease so far. It may be very difficult to escape the new Delta variant in the coming months without getting the shot, doctors say.

The Delta variant currently accounts for 20.6 percent of sequenced cases in the U.S., and that number is expected to multiply, especially in regions and among populations with low COVID-19 vaccination rates.

The number of sequenced cases of the Delta variant has roughly doubled every two weeks, Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, told a June 22 White House media briefing. Fauci is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease at the National Institutes of Health.

The mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna have been described as having at least 88 percent efficacy against the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, Ryan said.

"But we should not focus too hard on efficacy numbers," she suggested. "All available COVID-19 vaccines have shown strong real-world effectiveness at preventing severe disease by all COVID-19 variants. The most important message is that vaccination saves lives."

Vaccination is also important to prevent new, possibly worse, variants of the virus from appearing, Ryan said. "Every person who gets infected with SARS-CoV-2 allows the virus to replicate, or copy itself, up to one billion times. Every time the virus copies itself, there is a chance for a new variant to appear. We prevent variants from appearing by preventing human infections. We prevent human infections by vaccination," she said.

Because of the Delta variant, “Everyone in the U.S. who is at least 12 years old should be fully vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible," Ryan said.

More than half of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine; and 150.4 million, or 45.3 percent are fully vaccinated. For those over the age of 65, 87.3 percent have had at least one dose; 77.2 percent are fully vaccinated.

You also may be interested in...

Topic
Feb 16, 2024

COVID-19

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, a coronavirus discovered in 2019. The virus spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets and small particles produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.

Topic
Jan 9, 2024

COVID-19 Vaccine

The Defense Health Agency developed this digital toolkit to help you communicate with beneficiaries about the COVID-19 vaccine. The assorted print, digital, and social media graphics should be used locally to generate awareness among populations.

Infographic
Jul 25, 2023

COVID-19: Increased Risk

You Might be at Increased Risk

COVID-19 is a new disease. Currently there are limited data and information about the impact of many underlying medical conditions on the risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Based on what we know at this time, adults of any age with the following conditions might be at an increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19: Asthma ...

Infographic
Jul 25, 2023

COVID-19: Underlying Condition List

Graphic explaining the risk of severe illness to COVID-19 under certain medical conditions. Certain underlying medical conditions put you at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19. Severe illness from COVID-19 is defined as hospitalization, admission to the ICU, intubation or mechanical ventilation, or death. Adults of any age with the following conditions are at increased risk of severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19: Cancer; Chronic kidney disease; COPD; Down Syndrome; Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies; Immunocompromised state from solid organ transplant; Obesity; Pregnancy; Sickle cell disease; Smoking; or Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Certain underlying medical conditions put you at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19. Severe illness from COVID-19 is defined as hospitalization, admission to the ICU, intubation or mechanical ventilation, or death.

Infographic
Jun 22, 2023

COVID-19: What to do if You're at Risk

Graphic explaining how to what you should do if you have an underlying medical condition during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have an underlying medical condition, you should continue to follow your treatment plan. Continue your medicines and do not change your treatment plan without talking to your healthcare provider. Have at least a 30-day supply of prescription and non-prescription medicines. Talk to a healthcare provider, insurer, and pharmacist about getting an extra supply (i.e., more than 30 days) of prescription medicines, if possible, to reduce your trips to the pharmacy. Do not delay getting emergency care for your underlying medical condition because of COVID-19. Emergency departments have contingency infection prevention plans to protect you from getting COVID-19 if you need care. Call your healthcare provider if you have any concerns about your underlying medical conditions or if you get sick and think that you may have COVID-19. If you need emergency help, call 911 right away. If you don’t have a healthcare provider, contact your nearest medical treatment facility or clinic.

If you have an underlying medical condition, you should continue to follow your treatment plan. Continue your medicines and do not change your treatment plan without talking to your healthcare provider. Have at least a 30-day supply of prescription and non-prescription medicines. Talk to a healthcare provider, insurer, and pharmacist about getting an ...

Infographic
Jun 22, 2023

COVID-19: Reduce Your Risk

Graphic explaining how to reduce your risk of getting COVID-19. It is especially important for people with certain underlying medical conditions at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and those who live with them, to protect themselves from getting COVID-19.  The best way to protect yourself and to help reduce the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 is to: Limit your interactions with other people; Wear a mask over your nose and mouth; Stay 6 feet away from others; Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces; Wash your hands often; Clean and disinfect; and Monitor your health daily.

It is especially important for people with certain underlying medical conditions at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and those who live with them, to protect themselves from getting COVID-19. The best way to protect yourself and to help reduce the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 is to: Limit your interactions with other people ...

Skip subpage navigation
Refine your search
Last Updated: July 11, 2023
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on X Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery