Minnesota, including Otter Tail County, continues to work to reduce COVID-19 cases and increase vaccination levels in our communities. However, it’s important to remember that COVID-19 is not gone completely – the risk is still especially high for those who are not yet vaccinated.

There continues to be concern about the rise of all variants in Minnesota. These variants can spread more easily and may cause more severe disease in unvaccinated people. Currently, the predominant variant strain in the United States, and in Minnesota, is the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant. Minnesota is seeing a higher rate of severe disease (hospitalizations) with the Delta variant.

Clusters of variant cases have occurred and will continue to happen if people have not received their vaccine, or do not take other steps to stop the spread of COVID-19. There is emerging evidence that all the available COVID-19 vaccines provide protection against COVID-19 variants, including the Delta variant.

More than 99.9% of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths, regardless of strain, are in unvaccinated Minnesotans. What will really have an impact on COVID-19, and the variants, is for people who have not yet been vaccinated to get vaccinated.

Providing protection to as many people as possible is what will help slow the spread of the virus and prevent these variants from spreading or mutating even more. This will also help protect those who are not able to get vaccinated, such as children under age 12. Together we can protect each other and our communities.

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If you’re eligible, get vaccinated as soon as you can. If you are not yet vaccinated, continue to take steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask, social distancing and getting tested when recommended. It’s critical we make as much progress as possible as soon as possible in suppressing the virus.

If you have been vaccinated and are concerned about the variants, talk to your family, friends and neighbors to help make sure they know why it’s so important for every eligible person to get vaccinated to protect our entire community.

Otter Tail County Public Health is available to help answer questions and provide accurate information about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. In addition, Public Health continues to offer COVID-19 vaccination clinics every week. Call 218-998-8320 or go to our COVID-19 vaccine webpage at bit.ly/2LsgD97 for more information or to schedule your vaccine appointment today.