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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)

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Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

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.

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Consolidated Department of Defense Coronavirus Disease 2019 Force Health Protection Guidance

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Consolidates and updates the Department’s guidance regarding vaccination verification, vaccination status, COVID-19 testing, surveillance and screening testing, personnel protection on-site mask requirements, (e.g., DHA military medical treatment facilities, meetings, travel), and the protection of personally identifiable information.

DHA-IPM 20-004: Department of Defense (DOD) Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Vaccination Program Implementation

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Establishes the Defense Health Agency’s procedures to implement instructions, assign responsibilities, and prescribe procedures for the DHA’s implementation of the DOD’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccination Attestation, Screening Testing, and Vaccination Verification

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This memorandum provides guidance on the implementation of vaccination, attestation, and testing requirements in accordance with the References listed in Attachment 1 to reduce the transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Medical Logistics Guidance for the DoD Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Vaccination Program

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Establishes the DHA's procedures for ordering, receiving, and managing COVID-19 Vaccines inventory and ancillary kits for enduring COVID-19 support.

TAB A MEO COVID19 Medical Coding Policy

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Memorandum for DHA Staff - Military Medical Treatment Facilities to Implement Updated DHA COVID-19 Medical Coding Policy

DHA COVID19 Medical Coding PolicyV5 1v

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Establishes the DHA procedures to standardize the coding for Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) within military medical treatment facilities (MTFs). This memorandum replaces DHA-Policy Memorandum 20-003 of July 1, 2020. Attachment 1 was updated to include the 2021 procedure and diagnosis codes for COVID-19, including the new vaccination and treatment codes.

Supplemental Guidance for Providing DOD Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccines to DOD Contractor Employees and Select Foreign Nationals

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This memorandum provides supplemental guidance on the provision of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines, in accordance with reference (a). The Defense Health Agency (DHA) is the lead coordinating DOD Component for executing this guidance, in coordination with the Military Departments and other DOD Components as appropriate.

HA Guidance for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Laboratory Pre-Testing Questionnaire

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This memorandum provides guidance for a COVID-19 laboratory pre-testing questionnaire that will be mandatory for all Active Duty Service members and encouraged for all other DOD beneficiaries treated at military medical treatment facilities.

Executive Order on Ensuring Access to United States Government COVID-19 Vaccines

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This EO outlines who should receive priority access to COVID-19 vaccines developed in the United States or procured by the United States Government (“United States Government COVID-19 Vaccines”).

Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccine Guidance

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This memorandum provides guidance on the provision of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines. The Defense Health Agency (DHA) is the lead coordinating DOD Component for executing this guidance, in coordination with the Military Departments and other DOD Components.

Return to the Workplace Staffing Plan in the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Environment

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Establishes the DHA's plan to return to full operations and support the whole-of-government response, during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic

Military Medical Treatment Facilities to Implement Updated DHA COVID-19 Medical Coding Policy

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The Defense Health Agency (DHA) Memorandum, based on the authority of References (a) and (b), and in accordance with the guidance of References (c) and (d), establishes the DHA’s procedures to standardize the coding for Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) Military Medical Treatment Facilities (MTFs). This memorandum cancels and replaces DHA- Policy Memorandum 20-003 of (13 April 2020). A change was issued since the cancelled Memorandum 20-003 of (13 April 2020), the Attachment titles were updated to reflect that Attachments 1, 2, and 4 are considered Policies as opposed to Guidance.

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Last Updated: January 24, 2023
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