AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – The increasing number of COVID-19 cases from the Delta variant impacts the fight to control the virus across the country and vaccine rates declining pushed some cities in other states to bring back mask mandates, but experts in Colorado say the state has not reached that point yet. They do worry, however, that people still don’t understand the importance of getting vaccinated for their own health as well as the benefit of others.
“We’re protecting you from being hospitalized and death and I think that’s a key thing to understand,” said Dr. Michelle Barron, the senior medical director of infection prevention at UCHealth. “If you get it and you’re vaccinated, you’re likely to have a bad cold, and that’s okay.”
Breakthrough infections of COVID-19 in people who are fully vaccinated concerns doctors like Barron. But she says there is still a lot we do not know about the constantly changing dynamic of the virus and the vaccine. She explained that it is still unclear if those people will be as infectious as someone with the virus who is not vaccinated. Others with the vaccine may have an immune system that just did not respond as well to the vaccine as other healthy individuals.
“I think there was sort of a hope that we would beat it,” Dr. Barron told CBS4 on Friday. “The race is not over, we still have lots of opportunities to stop what we’re seeing.”
While she believes the medical community and leadership at all levels of government understood the potential threat of the Delta variant, she says the change in restrictions happened before we saw its true impact. As a more contagious strain of COVID-19, she explains it is starting to cause more of the upsurge in cases. She worries that in a state the size of Colorado, even if 80% of the population is vaccinated, the remaining 20% can still spread the disease and cause a significant number of infections.
“Why do we not have measles outbreaks in the United States, because 95% of the individuals are already vaccinated in childhood and have immunity,” she explained. “Why do we not have polio? Same thing.”
The nuance of the vaccine’s protection for individuals is getting lost, she fears not enough people understand that the shot is working even if you get COVID-19 in a milder form. Some have argued that the unvaccinated are putting the vaccinated at risk, she doesn’t think the situation is that concerning but does worry about those who are vaccinated with underlying risks. Barron also says a mask mandate doesn’t needs to come back in Colorado, nor does she believe requiring proof of vaccination will significantly help the problem.
“‘I got sick anyway.’ Well we knew that would still happen. But guess what, you’re not dead, that’s important,” she said. “I don’t know that we can go to the point of having more restrictions without other unintended consequences.”