Delta Variant and New Guidance on Masking for Fully Vaccinated Persons

A Public Health Advisory from Tulare County

Getting vaccinated and wearing a mask are the best ways to prevent COVID-19 infection, including from the new Delta variant. This variant is markedly more contagious than the U.K. variant and more than twice as contagious as the original SARS-CoV-2 virus. Research shows the vaccines are effective against the Delta variant by reducing virus spread and preventing severe illness and death from COVID-19. With the current vaccination rate in Tulare County, more than 2/3 of our community remains at risk.

The number of infections in our county doubled this month in persons less than 40 years old, and hospitalizations increased in this age group as well. Over 88 percent of hospitalizations for COVID-19 in Tulare County in the last month were in people who were not fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated persons are more likely to get infected, have a severe infection, and spread it to others. Persons are unvaccinated if they have not completed the final dose in their COVID-19 vaccine series (i.e., second shot in Pfizer and Moderna or one shot for Johnson & Johnson). It takes up to two weeks after the final vaccine dose to be fully protected.

Wearing a mask protects others as well as the person wearing it. Unvaccinated persons are required to wear face coverings indoors in public per California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Fully vaccinated persons should now also wear a mask in public indoor settings per the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and CDPH guidance. This is especially critical to protect certain people in our community who are more at risk. This includes persons with a weakened immune system, such as adults over the age of 65; persons on immunosuppressive medicines, high-dose steroids, or with recent cancer treatment; and persons with kidney disease or other immunodeficiency. Persons with a history of diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease, or smoking are at an increased risk of complications from COVID-19. Also, children remain especially vulnerable, as those under the age of 12 are not yet eligible for vaccination, and there is not sufficient data on the transmission or infection severity of the Delta variant in children. Therefore, it is important that family and friends around these susceptible populations help protect them by getting vaccinated and following precautions such as masking and avoiding gatherings.

As a reminder, anyone with any symptoms of COVID-19 should isolate at home and get tested for COVID-19—even if they are fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated persons in close contact with someone with COVID-19 should quarantine at home for 10 days and test at the end of quarantine, even if they have no symptoms. While vaccinated persons are not required to quarantine at home, they should self-monitor for symptoms (which may be milder), wear a mask, and test after 3 to 5 days even if they have no symptoms, per the CDC.

Vaccines are available to everyone 12 years of age and older, regardless of immigration status, and are free of cost. If you would like to schedule your vaccine appointment today, please go to or call (833) 422-4255, call Tulare County Public Health at (559) 685-2260, or call 211.

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