Vaccination best defense against COVID-19 variant

Jeff Kuhr

Many counties and states across the country have experienced declines in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths — including Colorado as a whole. Mesa County doesn’t follow that trend, however.

Driven by multiple highly infectious variants and a relatively low vaccination rate, Mesa County had the second-highest one-week COVID-19 incidence (infection) rate and highest one-week COVID-19 related hospitalization rate in the state. 

Colorado had the third-highest one-week COVID-19 incidence rate in the country, though most counties are seeing improvement. We’re the exception.

The COVID-19 variant I’m most concerned about in our community is the delta variant, formally known as the India (B.1.617.2) variant. This variant is more contagious and transmissible, particularly among children and young adults age 12 to 20. A recent study in India found the variant was 50 percent more contagious than other COVID-19 strains. Studies also indicate that variant strains pose a higher risk of hospitalization in unvaccinated individuals.

Mesa County was the first location in Colorado where the delta variant was detected. The variant now accounts for more than 6 percent of all infections in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Since it was first detected in our county a little more than a month ago, this highly transmissible variant has spread rapidly. There are now 125 identified cases of the delta variant in Mesa County residents. Not all positive cases are sequenced for variants, meaning the actual number of infections is much higher.

 The best defense against COVID-19 and associated variant strains continues to be vaccination. Our local data shows vaccination effectively fights variants, including the delta variant. 

 Mesa County Public Health wants to make it as easy as possible for those in the business community to get vaccinated. The department offers on-site vaccination clinics. Employers of any size can request a vaccination event free of charge. All staffing, logistics and vaccine supplies are provided. The enrolling employer will just need to advertise the free, on-site vaccination opportunity to their employees or members. In addition to free on-site vaccine clinics, guidance on vaccine promotion for employees is available. Contact us at covidvaccination@mesacounty.us or 248-6900 for more information.

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is considered a personal decision, but I strongly encourage you not to look at it that way. Instead, consider it a caring, selfless decision. Think of it as a way to protect our neighbors and our most vulnerable, like children who can’t get vaccinated yet and people advised to wait on getting the vaccine due to health reasons. The only way out of the pandemic is together.