KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As all Kansas and Missouri residents are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, doctors recommend people do so quickly as variants are being detected.
“We do have the UK variant here in Missouri that is starting to grow and it is 50 percent more contagious," Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department Director Dr. Rex Archer said.
Variants are different versions of a virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says viruses are constantly changing and mutating and can persist overtime or disappear.
“We really need to understand, we don’t have one pandemic right now, we have several pandemics. Each of these variants is creating, in many cases, its own pandemic," Archer said.
The CDC has detected multiple variants of COVID-19 globally. In the United States alone, five variants are of concern.
While each variant is different, some are believed to be more contagious.
“Unfortunately it’s not over, and as we know we’re seeing some outbreaks in certain parts of the country," Truman Medical Center/University Health Executive Chief Clinical Officer said. "Michigan in particular has been in the news and with the new variants out there and so I think we’re in a bit of a race trying to get enough people vaccinated and trying to outrun these variants."
Doctors tell 41 Action News that more studies are being done about the variants and how effective the COVID-19 vaccine is against them.
“The studies that we have on our current vaccines that are approved, is that they do provide some protection for variants," Saint Luke's Health System Infectious Disease Physician Dr. Sarah Boyd said.
To prevent an outbreak locally, doctors recommend the same protocols we've been practicing throughout the pandemic; hand washing, social distancing and wearing face coverings.
“In the mean time, we still need to be cautions and when we’re out in public or if we’re going out and about, we want to be wearing masks and social distancing even if we’ve been vaccinated just to try to make sure that those variants don’t catch hold and cause and uptick in cases," Steele said.
According to the CDC, 108 cases caused by variants have been reported in Kansas. In Missouri, 56 cases have been reported.