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This is a weekly Q and A column written by Dr. Lydia S. Segal, M.D. in conjunction with Chaffee County Public Health. This column is focused on questions readers have about COVID-19 news and sciences.  As Segal points out, ‘Everything I write today is valid for today. COVID-19 news and science are rapidly evolving, assume updates will be made”

QUESTION:  What is the Delta variant everyone is talking about?

ANSWER: The Delta variant, originally from India, now represents more than 70 percent of all new cases in Colorado according to the Colorado State Public Health dashboard data page. To date, it is the most transmissible variant since the pandemic started 18 months ago.  This variant appears to have a longer duration of infectivity. New information in the last few days suggests it is no more severe and lethal than other variants. We do know that it tends to result in more hospitalizations, especially in areas of the country where the vaccination rate is low. Additionally, when the vaccine rate is low, perhaps under 35 percent, it gives the Delta variant more of a foothold to spread.

Lydia S, Segal, MD, MPHQUESTION:  Are there any reported cases of the Delta variant in the county?

ANSWER:  Yes, the first reported case in Chaffee County was reported last week by public health. As only a small percentage of positives go to the state for genetic testing, it is assumed there is more than one case that has been reported.

QUESTION:  What do I need to do to protect myself from the Delta variant?

ANSWER:  If you are not fully vaccinated, consider getting vaccinated. At this point, it appears that the two doses of either mRNA vaccines, Pfizer or Modern, confer about 90 percent protection against this variant.  If you only had one dose, the efficacy against the Delta variant is less than 30 percent, so get your second shot of the series. If you had the J & J, there are early suggestions to get the full two doses of either Pfizer or Moderna to confer greater protection.

Additionally, all the general mitigation protection measures including masking, social distancing, hand washing, etc., should be followed whenever you are in a public place where you do not know with whom you are interacting. This is especially true in areas where the vaccine rate is low and or the Delta variant is high. These often go hand in hand.

QUESTION: Why does Mesa county (where Grand Junction is located) have such a high rate of Delta cases?

ANSWER:  According to Director of Chaffee County Public Health Andrea Carlstrom, Mesa County has a vaccine rate of less than 35 percent (Chaffee County stands at 62.9 percent). Two separate situations are being at least partially thought to be responsible for the rapid spread of Delta in Mesa County. One is due to unvaccinated healthcare workers potentially spreading this variant to long-term care facility residents. The other is believed to be attributable to a large music festival held there recently.

QUESTION:  Do I need a booster for the Delta variant?

ANSWER:  As mentioned earlier, we know that currently both mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) have about a 90 percent efficacy against the Delta variant. They are about 95 percent effective against all of the other current variants. However, the question has come up as to whether it is worthwhile getting a third vaccine or a newly developed vaccine by Pfizer that specifically targets Delta. At the time of writing this article, the question of a booster for Delta is still unknown. Check back in a few weeks, and the answer may be clearer.

QUESTION: Does the Delta variant affect young adults and teens more frequently?

ANSWER:  Yes it does, and this is another reason to get your young friends and family that are over 12 years of age to be vaccinated.

For more information about COVID and the vaccines, eligibility, and appointments, see the links below. Pharmacies are getting small shipments of vaccines. Information will be posted online here and on the county public health and hospital web pages.

Pharmacies with vaccine clinics:

Salida:  Safeway, Walmart and Salida Pharmacy

Buena Vista: Mt Shavano (LaGree’s), City Market, BV Drug, and Valley-Wide Health.

If you have questions you would like Dr. Segal to address in a future COVID-19 Q and A column, please write to

By Lydia S. Segal, M.D., MPH