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HORIZON BLOG

Mom's Unvaccinated; What About Delta?

 

Question

"Our family is very worried about our elderly mother. She decided long ago not to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and has stood by this decision even in the face of the Delta variant. We are concerned.

Mom is not in good health and we believe she might die if she becomes infected with COVID. With the alarming increase in new cases this month, we’re wondering if we should place additional pressure on her.

We, her kids and also her grandkids, are generally the only ones who visit Mom. All of us who can be vaccinated, are, yet we just don’t know if that’s enough to keep her safe. She does get out to the doctor quite regularly too, though that’s the only place she goes. 

What do we do to keep her safe?"

 

Answer

You are correct that your mother is at greater risk for a serious infection with the newer Delta variant of the COVID virus. It’s reported to be more communicable and more potent than the original virus strain. 

I think it’s good that those visiting your mother are vaccinated and therefore less likely to become infected and transfer the disease. What’s unfortunate is that some of those vaccinated are becoming infected with what is likely the new strain of COVID—the exact strain you do not want her to get. Those who are mildly affected may not even know that they have COVID. It’s unknown how contagious they are if vaccinated and infected, though I would not take the chance with mom to find out.

I recommend you discuss and closely monitor family members who visit your mother, even if vaccinated. Ask them to stay away with any upper respiratory symptoms. I reiterate: vaccinated individuals often have COVID symptoms so very mild that they are unaware that they have COVID. It is too soon to say how contagious they are, but remember that mom has no protection at this point.

Now about your mother; she places herself at great risk for a lengthy, miserable hospitalization and possible death. It’s hard to understand why she is making this choice at this point in her life.  From a risk/reward perspective, the prudent choice would be to get vaccinated. What I do recommend is that you ask your mother to discuss it with her doctor on one of her frequent visits. You can advise her to visit the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website if she uses the internet. You can print and provide documents from the CDC website for her to read if she is not a computer user. While I suspect that you have already had multiple conversations about this topic, I cannot assume that you have. 

It’s true that your mom is at risk, and that risk has grown over the last few months. Now is an important time for her to become vaccinated. I hope you are able to provide her accurate information.

I know that you understand your mother’s free choice in this situation. All I can recommend is that you provide information and offer the best protection you can. The rest is up to your mother.

I wish you well on this journey and that the outcome is positive.

 

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