NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Now could be the most dangerous time to remain unvaccinated against COVID-19 as the delta variant spreads rapidly around the world, New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said.
Chokshi and New York City Senior Advisor for Public Health, Dr. Jay Varma, strongly urged people who have not yet gotten vaccinated to do so during Mayor Bill de Blasio's daily briefing Monday.
"Even though this strain of the virus appears to be both more infectious and more dangerous, it appears to also be very responsive to the vaccine," Varma said.
The delta variant has represented about 10% of new cases in the city over the last month and 23% over the last week.
While health officials are keeping an eye on the variant, Varma said that as more people get vaccinated and infection rates drop, it's typical for new strains to make up the majority of new cases.
"While it's something we need to monitor carefully, we need to always emphasize the fact that, even though the percentage of delta cases is going up the total number of people with COVID continues to go down and the vaccines continue to be very effective," Varma said.
Varma said that since the delta variant is far more contagious, the percentage of the population that needs to be vaccinated in order to reach what is often referred to as herd or community immunity is likely higher than previously thought.
Chokshi said his main concern is people who are unvaccinated "because of the threat this variant poses."
"For my fellow New Yorkers who have been waiting to figure out whether or not to get vaccinated, if you've been on the fence, my message is very simple, your wait is over, and now is the best time to get vaccinated," Chokshi said.
Chokshi said the city has done canvassing, knocked on thousands of doors, and worked with trusted community-based clinicians to encourage vaccinations and is now focused on young people.
"These last miles of the vaccination campaign, in some ways, are our most important, to reach every single New Yorker who can benefit from the protection that vaccination affords," Chokshi said.
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