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'It's very good news, if you've been vaccinated' | Evaluating the risk of COVID-19 as Delta variant fuels rise in cases

Virginia health leaders say the Delta variant is driving cases up across the region.

NORFOLK, Va. — Virginia health leaders say we're in a race against time. The Delta variant is fueling a rise in cases across the Eastern region of the state and the spread is even starting to worry some people who are fully vaccinated.

Dr. Bill Petri, a longtime infectious diseases professor at UVA, explains some of the key takeaways from this study published in the New England Journal of Medicine

Health experts are waiting on more research to compare the protection of the Johnson & Johnson shot between the Alpha and Delta COVID-19 variants.

The new findings from the journal underscore mRNA vaccine protection, especially if you have two shots of Pfizer or two of Moderna. 

"It takes both doses to give you that 80 percent protection against Delta," said Petri. That’s compared to 88 percent protection against the Alpha variant. 

Health experts consider that only a small difference.

“It's very good news, if you've been vaccinated, in that you're very well protected against the Delta variant," said Petri.

Dr. Parham Jaberi, acting district health director of the Norfolk and Virginia Beach Departments of Public Health, echoes that message.

"Where people get vaccinated and they get sick, it’s a very small percentage and even a much smaller percentage of those individuals getting sick to the point of needing hospitalization or dying from the illness," said Jaberi.

Vaccinated people we spoke with are put at ease.

“Just knowing that it’s not going to be as bad because of the vaccine has definitely been something that’s a little bit calming," said Centrell Hughes. 

“It just gives me confidence," said Lucille Conran. "Even if I get the variant, I just feel it won’t be as severe of an infection.”

Trends with the Delta variant are pushing health leaders to continue with vaccination efforts. At the same time, they're continuing to fight the effects of misinformation.

"Misinformation really winds up hurting individuals and communities," said Jaberi. 

Jaberi also told 13News Now that the vaccine site at Military Circle Mall will stay open until at least next month:

IN JULY - Tuesdays 1:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Thursdays 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. 

IN AUGUST - Tuesdays 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Thursdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.