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Epidemiologist Dr. Emily Landon Answers Viewer Questions About COVID-19, Delta Variant, Booster Shots

CHICAGO (CBS) -- From breakthrough cases of COVID-19 to vaccine booster shots, headlines are making some heads swirl. Viewers are writing into CBS2 for help deciphering what's safe and what's not right now.

The Morning Insiders have you covered. CBS 2's Lauren Victory takes your burning questions to one of Chicago's top doctors.

A vaccinated grandpa with grandkids too young to get the shot wrote into CBS2 recently. The viewer very simply wanted to know, with the delta variant of COVID-19 spreading, is hugging allowed, and what about high fives?

We tapped University of Chicago Medicine's chief epidemiologist, Dr. Emily Landon, for that answer.

"If people are masked, or both people are vaccinated, it's perfectly fine to hug one another. If you really want to hug grandma, and your kid isn't vaccinated yet, and you're really not sure what to do, slap a mask on both of them, wash their hands, let them high five and hug and snuggle and read stories together at bedtime," she said.

The viewer's next question: is social distancing still required inside and out?

"When everybody is masked, it's perfectly fine to have a lot of people together," Landon said, with the caveat that you probably shouldn't plan on being in a massive crowd of unvaccinated people.

Outdoor hangouts are still best for everyone.

We asked about situations in which a family includes an immunocompromised member, or a home has people of mixed vaccination status.

"I strongly recommend avoiding crowded indoor settings, or places where people aren't wearing masks indoors" Landon said of those cases.

Another viewer question about masks: should they be worn inside by everyone everywhere? Landon's short answer: yes.

"The unvaccinated people are spreading delta [variant] so fast, that they are basically bathing the vaccinated people in delta exposures, and that's a little bit more than what our vaccines were really developed to be able to handle. So, a lot of people are ending up with breakthrough infections, and if those breakthrough infections can spread to another group of unvaccinated people, then that's a problem," said Landon, who is in full support of a statewide indoor mask mandate, should Governor J.B. Pritzker announce one.

Booster shots are coming, which brings us to our next inquiry: will I get sore or sick from a third shot?

"Certainly, you can expect to have the same side effects you had, often after the second dose, but other than that you are going to be just fine," said Landon, who was careful to distinguish between "booster shoots" for more healthy people and "third doses" for those who didn't elicit a strong immune response from the first two shots.

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