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Health officials urge people to get vaccinated as variants become more prominent

Health officials urge people to get vaccinated as variants become more prominent

SALINAS, Calif. — All Californians 16 and older are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, and it comes as health officials are debating the best way to protect the public amid demand outpacing supply and variants are on the rise.

The California Department of Public Health confirmed that Monterey County had its first known case of the B.1.1.7 variant of SARS-COV-2, also called the “U.K.” variant in late February. The person has since recovered from the virus.

Monterey County said in a press release, "Because some variants have been associated with increased disease transmission, more severe morbidity, and in some cases potential vaccine escape, Monterey County Health Department requests medical providers contribute to community surveillance for variants."

Epidemiologists say there's no question, it's a race of vaccines vs variants. But how to prioritize vaccines to gain the quickest protection is up for debate.

"Everyone doesn't agree," Salinas Valley Medical Center Chief of Staff Dr. Allen Radner said. "Many infectious disease experts believe that statistically it would be much better to give everybody one dose of the vaccine, than give half the number of people two doses."

Radner says the debate is brought up as demand outpaces supply and variants are becoming more prevalent. Radner said one shot of a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine offers about 80 percent protection, while the two shots offer 95% protection.

"80 percent of a million people is considerably better than 95% of half a million people," Radner said. "I think we should get one dose into everybody as quickly as possible."

Radner said the United Kingdom was successful in delaying its surge by delaying second doses of the vaccine in favor of getting more first shots into arms.

"I can tell you Tony Fauci for instance isn't advocating for that," Radner said. "Other infectious disease experts are, and a number of very prominent people feel we should be trying to get the vaccine into as many people as quickly as possible to prevent further surges."

Radner said the debate is taking place as surges are happening in India, Ohio, and Michigan.

"Roughly 30 to 40% of the population had been full vaccinated, and yet they're having a very serious surge where there are no ICU beds in many parts of Michigan," Radner said. "There's absolutely no reason why that can't happen here."

Radner said where there is no debate, is that at the moment, vaccines offer the best protection against variants.

"We definitely know that many of the strains that are circulating throughout the United States and throughout Monterey County are definitely more infectious and it just gives us pause and more reason to continue to be more concerned about the spread of the virus in our community. It should again emphasize the need to vaccinate," Radner said.

https://www.ksbw.com/article/health-officials-urge-to-get-vaccinated-as-variants-become-more-prominent/36139934