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Answering COVID-19 questions related to the highly contagious Delta variant

Delta variant is considered highly transmissible, but you shouldn't worry about it if you're vaccinated, scientists say.

ATLANTA — There's a lot of talk right now about the COVID-19 Delta variant, which is more contagious than other virus strains. It is raising some concerns about the spread of the illness, even for those vaccinated against the virus.

With the help of 11Alive Medical Correspondent Dr. Sujatha Reddy and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we answer some of your COVID-19 questions.

1. If you're vaccinated, can you still get the virus?

In short, yes, but Dr. Reddy said it is unlikely.

"It is possible you could spread it to other people but you're a lot less likely to transmit it when you're vaccinated than if you weren't vaccinated," she said. "Vaccinated people are not good at sharing or transmitting this virus to others."

She said that's one of many benefits of getting vaccinated, including that the vaccine helps prevent serious illness or death due to the coronavirus.

2. If you get a mild case of COVID-19, will you be spreading a ‘mild’ case or does it depend on the person who contracts it?

Dr. Reddy said it all depends on the person who contracts it, their immune system and whether or not they are vaccinated.

"Just because a person with mild symptoms is the one transmitting it, doesn't guarantee the person catching it is going to have mild symptoms," she said. "The person who catches coronavirus is going to depend on their vaccine status, their immune system and their health."

3. How can you tell if you have a cold versus COVID-19?

She says there's not a clear-cut answer to this, given the symptoms that come with the Delta variant.

"It is very hard to tell the difference between the symptoms because with the Delta variant, too, the symptoms have been a little bit different than with the original coronavirus we talked about last year," she said. "People aren't losing sense of smell and sense of taste like they did last year. We're seeing more the common cold type symptoms: cold, runny nose, fever."

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4. Should I get tested if I'm vaccinated and think I might have COVID-19? What if I'm not vaccinated?

Dr. Reddy said there’s no time table on when you should get tested if you’re vaccinated, but she recommends that if you start feeling serious symptoms, like a fever, you get tested just in case. 

She said chances you get the virus, if you are vaccinated, are slim but it will help give you peace of mind.

"If you've been somewhere you're concerned about having been exposed, its probably worth getting tested so that you can isolate yourself and not spread it around," she adds. "Even though if you're vaccinated and you're not a good spreader, it's still possible."

If you’re unvaccinated, Dr. Reddy said monitor even the mildest of symptoms and get a test done as soon as possible because symptoms can progress and spread rapidly.

"Unvaccinated people may get more serious symptoms from the Delta variant so if you're unvaccinated I would take my symptoms very seriously," she adds.

She adds that testing remains the same, and so does the guidance for quarantining if you get the virus.

If you have any questions you want us to answer, reach out at psuro@11alive.com.

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