Experts: Young people catching, spreading more severe cases of COVID-19 following rise of delta variant

Miami Valley News

MIAMISBURG. Ohio (WDTN) – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans between age 18 and 39 have gotten fewer vaccinations, and intend to get fewer vaccinations than other groups across the country. 

Dr. Jeffrey Weinstein, patient safety officer with Kettering Health, said that could make completely getting out of the COVID-19 pandemic a challenge.

“What we’ve seen in Ohio and across the country is that the older you are, the more likely you are to have been vaccinated. So we’re not seeing the large numbers of older people getting sick and getting hospitalized like we were six months ago,” said Weinstein.

Instead, he said younger people are being more heavily impacted by the virus and having more severe symptoms. And with many 20 to 30-year-olds choosing not to get the vaccine, it’s not only having an effect on those around them, but a direct effect on their health as well. 

“There’s a couple of issues there,” said Weinstein. “Number one, is that we’re clearly seeing a younger population getting hospitalized. I think it’s because this Delta variant is more aggressive and it causes more severe disease. So although being young is somewhat protective, if you’re young and have some risk factors — maybe you have some chronic lung disease, maybe you have obesity — you can still get very, very sick from this and get hospitalized.”

However, one Miami Valley worker said he believes the reason young people aren’t taking the vaccine is cyclical. 

“I don’t know anybody that got it yet,” said 24-year-old Samuel Martin. “If your peers don’t get it, I don’t feel like I’d get it if they [didn’t] get it.”

Martin said what could potentially persuade him and other young people to get vaccinated is seeing other 20 to 30-year-olds roll up their sleeves first.

“I have to see a peer get it and see the symptoms that they go through and see how it affects them,” he said.

Weinstein said one possible solution is active feedback and education offered to younger people by trusted role models. 

“Certainly, we want all the family doctors out there to be recommending it. We’d like teachers, we’d like anyone who is a role model, perhaps maybe it’s an uncle or an aunt or a parent that’s the role model and will recommend it to younger people.”

To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine, click here.

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