County experts stress importance of 2nd shot as delta variant cases increase

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SAN DIEGO — County officials are urging residents to get fully vaccinated as the delta variant spreads through California and the number of positive local coronavirus cases increases.

“It’s easy to get, it’s accessible,” County Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher said. “I think now it’s just getting into that hesitant population.”

The news comes as the rapidly spreading delta variant could become the dominant strain in San Diego County by August.  

A newly released survey of 4,300 residents showed 54% of respondents who said they were unvaccinated were either somewhat or very unlikely to get vaccinated in the future. More than half cited fear of side effects or a distrust in vaccines in general. 

“Ninety-eight percent of COVID hospitalizations from March 1 till today are those unvaccinated,” Fletcher said. “Ninety-six percent of COVID deaths from March 1 until today are those weren’t vaccinated.”

About 1.9 million county residents, or 68%, are fully vaccinated, however 140,000 San Diegans have only received their first dose. Experts believe it doesn’t offer enough protection particularly against the delta variant.

San Diego County Chief Medical Officer Eric McDonald said residents should still get the second dose, even if they are late.

“It’s important because specifically for the delta variant,” McDonald said. “One shot is not enough. There’s been some studies recently coming out of Israel, the UK. That first shot doesn’t give the same protection for that variant.”

Of the more than 340 positive cases reported by the county Monday, 107 of them were associated with the delta variant – that’s nearly double the previous count. And there’s a two-to-three week lag time due to the sequencing procedure, so experts surmise the numbers are higher. 

“I think it will become our dominant variant within a couple of weeks,” Dr. Seema Shaw added. “The point is not about the variant. The reason why it’s spreading is they’re unvaccinated individuals.” 

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