Is Your Community COVID Safe?

I am part of Sonoma County’s Public Health COVID-19 learning collaborative in partnership with providers in the PA/LCT (Post Acute and Long Term Care).  We have achieved a high vaccination rate for those living in our facilities, but still have vaccine holdouts in about 10-25% of our staff.  With our state doing away with the restrictive tiers this month, the public can again go into most indoor establishments without a mask, if they are fully vaccinated.  With the increasing prevalence of Delta COVID variant (appears to be twice as transmissible as the original SARS-CoV2), is it safe for your unvaccinated staff, family, and friends to follow the new CDC guidance for public gatherings?

In my community, we are seeing an early surge of COVID-19 infections in mainly unvaccinated persons 18-44 y/o persons.  Some of these infections have produced small outbreaks among fully vaccinated staff and clients.  Though children are 1/3rd less likely to become infected, we are starting to see the Delta variant transmitted to children for at home exposures.  Our epidemiologist anticipates this Delta Variant will become the dominant virus in our community later this summer.

While our vaccines are effective at preventing most serious illness and death, this variant does appear more transmissible and may more readily infect fully vaccinated persons.  For this reason, we are advising the seniors in our community to wear a mask in the public indoor spaces and avoid indoor aerobic exercise activity.   

In California, the number of fully vaccinated residents is far better than most of the states, but we are not yet at herd immunity and the rate of vaccination of eligible persons has significantly declined.

Messages targeting the eligible unvaccinated members of your community are a good way to make your community safer.  CMS has a We Can Do This COVID-19 public education campaign with wonderful resources and information handouts in English and Spanish that address many vaccination concerns. I particularly like the Information on COVID-19 for Caregivers of Older Adults.  In addition, the American Geriatrics Society Health in Aging Foundation has developed and released a well done 8 minute video “Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy: Information on the COVID-19 Vaccine” on YouTube). We will be using both these handouts and the video in community health fairs.  I’ve also encouraged my facilities and their residents to share these tools with staff, family, and friends.

Together, we can improve vaccine acceptance and help our communities become healthier places to live and work


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