In a discussion with CNTV News’ Quin Tran, Dr. John Krueger spoke of the COVID-19 virus delta variant, how it might impact the upcoming autumn months and what community members can do to protect themselves and their loved ones.
“The virus has been mutating pretty consistently, as viruses do,” Dr. Krueger said. “But this delta variant we first saw in India – that variant has now made its way across the pond, so to speak. It’s now in the United States, it’s spreading, and it’s responsible now for more than 50% of all cases of COVID-19.”
As under secretary of medical staff and quality for Chickasaw Nation Department of Health, Dr. Krueger fulfills the dual roles of chief medical officer and chief quality officer for the Chickasaw Nation’s medical system. His guidance has become a common experience for anyone seeking health updates from the Chickasaw Nation.
He noted how the variant, which was first detected in the United States in January, is now predominantly showing up in non-vaccinated persons.
“If people are unvaccinated, that’s who is at risk,” Dr. Krueger said. “That’s who is getting a severe illness. The delta variant is very infectious. It’s very easy to catch, even in the summertime.”
Considering how effectively the delta variant is spreading during a time of year when viruses usually slow down, Dr. Krueger wanted to draw attention to the upcoming months.
“What we’re concerned about is heading into fall,” he said. “How you do in summer portends how you are going to do in the fall months. That’s the concern. That’s why now is the time to go ahead and get vaccinated, because it’s going to be September pretty soon, and you’ll want to have two doses in [by then].”
Dr. Krueger mentioned how individuals aged 10 and up are more likely to spread COVID-19, making students an important group when it comes to vaccinations.
“The vaccines are approved for students 12 and up. It’s really important, if you have a child 12 years old and up, to go ahead and get them vaccinated before they go back to school. We think that will be very helpful in not only preventing them from getting ill but also preventing them from bringing it home to parents and loved ones,” Dr. Krueger explained.
Dr. Krueger explained previous community vaccination efforts have found success, especially within our most vulnerable populations such as the elder population.
“To date, we delivered a little over 62,000 COVID-19 vaccines, which is really a major triumph for the Chickasaw Nation and for this area of the country,” Dr. Krueger said.
The Chickasaw Nation continues to offer COVID-19 vaccines at no cost to everyone, regardless of tribal citizenship, employment or state residency in its aggressive pursuit of putting an end to the pandemic.
The vaccine is distributed in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.
Vaccinations are available by appointment only at the Chickasaw Nation Medical Center Alternate Care Site in Ada and at satellite clinics in Ardmore, Tishomingo and Purcell. To schedule a vaccination, visit COVIDVaccine.Chickasaw.net.
Much like other common vaccines, such as flu immunizations, chickenpox, hepatitis, HPV and more, COVID-19 vaccines help bodies develop immunity to the virus. Vaccines work with the immune system so it will be ready to fight the virus if exposed. Unlike some vaccines, the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines do not contain a live virus. Instead, these vaccines help by building antibodies to protect you if you are exposed.
Widespread vaccination is the single most effective way to control the COVID-19 virus. It will help reduce critical illness rates, and clinic, emergency department and hospital visits. It will also decrease the need for testing and treatment and, more importantly, reduce deaths.
Vaccine recipients must be at least 12 years old to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, or 18 years old to receive the Moderna vaccine.
The Chickasaw Nation COVID-19 Vaccine Call Center is available at (580) 272-1339.