Assessing My Risk Tolerance with the Delta Variant

Our seemingly never-ending pandemic is stirring up again, which means it is time to revisit how I have been handling my risk. From the outset and even after getting vaccinated, I have made it a general routine to assess disease spread in my area and read as much commentary from some of my favorite public health follows as I can (and of course communication with my care team) to determine where I should set my risk tolerance for everyday living. Want a good podcast?

Before the vaccine, my walls were up pretty high, while after the vaccine I slowly started diving back into pre-pandemic life, which, of course, was topped off with our vaccine-mandated wedding! Believe me, I have enjoyed living mask-free.

Now that case counts are rising across the country, I am starting to come to terms with the reality (or at least the very, very likely reality) that the disease-causing virus at the heart of COVID-19 is going to be an endemic disease – meaning the virus is here to stay bouncing around our population much like any number of cold viruses out there. Of course, I do think that was the primary goal with the vaccination campaign. Complete containment was probably only possible at the very beginning of the 2020, but that opportunity was quickly botched by quite a few people around the globe (want to know more? Read Michael Lewis’s newest book, The Premonition: A Pandemic Story).

So where am I now? Well… I don’t have a great desire to get sick, even if I know my vaccine offers a great deal of protection from a significant outcome, getting sick really sucks. I take reassurance in the decoupling of the waves – cases, hospitalizations and mortality – that we are all so familiar with. But I don’t like getting sick especially with the increased incidence of breakthrough infections.

So, yes, I am probably trending backwards to more cautious living, but not quite in the bubble that I was living inside during the early spring months of 2020. Lately I haven’t felt the need to wear a mask (speaking, of course, from the bias that I live in a heavily vaccinate region – go Vermont and New Hampshire!), or stop myself from eating out. But I am thinking that I am going to start pulling back. The first thing I am probably going to cross off the list is eating indoors at a restaurant, while also making sure I don’t linger too long in a crowded place (but let’s be honest, my days of bar hopping during happy hour are long over).

That all said, I have enjoyed my return to the gym, and will hopefully ride out my newest class bundle at Orangetheory despite the wave in cases.

I also have a great deal of respect for the kinds of math that clearly articulate how this pandemic has changed, like this great tweet below:

I am supremely confident in my vaccine, and will be looking to CF providers to share thoughts on boosters (or re-dosing [is that what we’re calling it now?]), which is why I am not hustling back to bubble living. I am also going to be tuned into the CDC over the next few days as it looks like the masking guidance is about to change.

Remember, arguing over masking is insanely stupid.

In the interim, I wanted to know where people with CF stood on their risk tolerance, so I went to Twitter and asked.

The results were mixed. Some were influenced by their community vaccination rates and status of their underlying health:

While others feel comfortable after vaccine, with some even thinking that Trikafta has better equipped them to deal with mild symptoms:

I think I am probably somewhere in the middle. No matter where you are on the risk tolerance spectrum, know that only you know where you should be, and that’s all that maters. My advice is to listen to the people who know what they’re talking about, and when in doubt message the clinic!