COVID Vaccines vs. New Variants

Health care workers answer questions about the COVID-19 vaccines.

Rhea Boyd, MD, MPH explains how the COVID vaccines are critical to combatting variants.

So, while we still wait to get most of the world vaccinated we’re going to continue to see new variants of COVID arise. That happens because as COVID spreads between person to person and tries to replicate or copy itself, it makes little mistakes. Most of those little mistakes that the virus makes are not actually helpful to the virus, but sometimes the virus hits the lottery, and it lands on a variant that actually enables it to last longer, or out-compete the other variants. That’s what we’re seeing right now happening with the Delta variant, for example, it’s more contagious and more infectious than the other variants. And so, it is now becoming the dominant variant in this country.

Thankfully, our COVID vaccines are incredibly effective at preventing infection, hospitalization, and death from the Delta variant. So right now, the vaccines stand up really well to the existing variants. But we are in a bit of a race against time because the longer we have large populations who remain unvaccinated, the more likely that new variants are going to continue to arise that will be a problem, that will be more infectious, and eventually that may not be well-served by our current vaccines.

And so, people need to get vaccinated now to prevent the spread of COVID to other people. But also so that the virus doesn’t keep creating new variants, which eventually could actually be a problem for our current vaccines, which are so effective.

This information is shared for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. The views expressed are those of the featured medical professional and reflect information available to that professional at time of filming. Always consult a health care provider for any personal health decisions. Click here for vaccine FAQs from the CDC.

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COVID vaccines are available at no cost to everyone ages 12 and older in the U.S., regardless of insurance or immigration status.

Use Vaccines.gov to find a location near you.