(StatePoint) Despite significant gains in vaccinations and fighting COVID-19, the rise of the more transmissible Delta variant poses a significant risk for unvaccinated people.
"We are at a critical moment in the COVID-19 pandemic. We have the vaccines and public health measures necessary to protect people and stop the spread of the virus, but the onus is on all of us to get vaccinated in order to protect ourselves and our communities. Despite the gains we have made, the dangers -- particularly of the Delta variant -- are real and concerning," says Gerald E. Harmon, M.D., American Medical Association (AMA) president.
According to the AMA, here is what you can do now to decrease the risk to you and your family.
1. Talk to your doctor. Speak to your own physician about vaccines. Physicians remain one of the most important sources for information about vaccines. And with 96 percent of physicians vaccinated, according to a recent AMA poll, they are prepared to answer your questions and speak about their own experience with vaccines.
2. Get vaccinated ASAP. If you're not already vaccinated, get the first vaccine available to you. Three vaccines are now available in the United States: those made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Pharmaceuticals. All are safe and highly effective at preventing severe COVID-19 illness, hospitalizations and death.
3. Immunize your child. Now is the time to immunize your child, if they are eligible, so they are fully vaccinated by the start of school. It takes five weeks for the two-dose Pfizer vaccine to be fully effective. With schools reopening in person in August in many places, and with just one in five children between 12-15 years old vaccinated, you should start the vaccination process as soon as possible.
Additionally, childhood and adolescent vaccination rates against diseases such as measles, pertussis and human papilloma virus dropped precipitously during the first few months of the pandemic stay-at-home orders. Although rates have picked up, they have not picked up enough to achieve catch-up coverage, so make sure your child's immunizations are on track during well-child visits with their doctor.
"In order for communities to fully move on from COVID-era restrictions and ensure we don't fall back due to spread of COVID variants, everyone must do their part now and get vaccinated. Too much is at stake," says Dr. Harmon.
Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines by visiting getvaccineanswers.org or find a location to get vaccinated near you at vaccines.gov.