Delta Variant FAQ: Common Patient Questions
The delta variant continues to raise concerns for cities and states across the nation. In the South, hospitals are reaching or exceeding capacity, and cases are spiking in urban epicenters. While many assumed the pandemic was on the downtrend, the delta variant has ramped it back up. Those outside the medical field have questions, and they don’t necessarily understand how the delta variant is different — or the threat it poses. It’s often left up to nursing staff to educate them, and it’s not always easy.
Nurses are at the forefront of patient information
When COVID-19 began to spread in 2020, people struggled with a lack of information about the virus. Healthcare workers were frequently the frontline source of the latest scientific and safety information.
Now, as the delta variant fuels a resurgence, healthcare workers are once again on the spot. Delta is different from the original COVID-19 strain, but the average person doesn’t have the information they need to fully understand how it differs. No matter your specialty as a travel nurse, you’ll likely face delta-related questions from patients and their loved ones. It’s critical for every nurse to arm themselves with concise, accurate information to keep people informed.
Most common delta questions
The following questions are among the most common nurses are hearing about the delta variant — on and off the job — along with some quick answers you can share to make your community a safer, healthier place.
- How is the delta variant different? Delta is more than twice as contagious as the original strain of COVID-19 and its other variants. It spreads much faster and more easily. Delta is more likely to cause severe disease and hospitalization in unvaccinated people, and it is also affecting children and teens at a higher rate.
- Can I get it if I’m vaccinated already? It is possible, though less likely, to become infected with delta if you are vaccinated. Vaccines provide strong protection against delta, and your chances of catching it are much lower than if you’re unvaccinated. Because it’s more contagious, the risk of catching delta is higher than the original strain.
- How dangerous is the delta variant for the vaccinated vs. unvaccinated? The delta variant is much more dangerous for the unvaccinated than it is for the vaccinated. Vaccines offer protection against infection and hospitalization from delta, even when they’re not 100% effective. Unvaccinated people have a higher risk of both infection and hospitalization.
- What are the symptoms of delta variant COVID-19? Many of the symptoms of the original strain are the same with the delta variant. People with delta are reporting headaches, sore throats, runny noses, and fevers, but the variant may not cause loss of taste and smell.
- Should I go back to wearing a mask? The CDC recommends everyone — vaccinated and unvaccinated — take extra precautions to prevent the spread of the delta variant, including wearing a mask indoors. If it’s possible for you to wear a mask, it will provide extra protection against the virus.
- Are there going to be other variations of COVID-19? There are already multiple variants of COVID-19, including alpha, beta, and gamma. These variants have been seen in various countries around the world, but delta is the predominant U.S. variant. It is possible the virus will continue to mutate into new variants if allowed to spread.
Vaccination, wearing masks, and following proper hygiene procedures are the most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 — both the original strain and its delta variant. Nurses should encourage patients to take delta seriously and protect one another from this contagious and dangerous strain of COVID-19.