New concerns of the Delta variant of the virus, first seen in India

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging people to get vaccinated to protect themselves and those around them from now variants of the coronavirus, like the Delta variant.

Back in April, this variant was detected in the Memphis area, and officials said that was an isolated case due to travel. The Health Department said there have been two cases in Shelby County, a husband and wife. 

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky says while she’s encouraged by lower COVID-19 death rates, hospitalizations, and cases, however she is concern about the Delta variant of the virus, which was first seen in India.

“What I worry about is in the future this virus is an opportunist. It’s going to go places where people aren’t protected because they haven’t gotten vaccinated,” said Walensky.

The new Delta variant is currently spreading rapidly in the United Kingdom.

“And so what we’ve seen in the UK, where they have the UK variant there is now increasing numbers of this India variant or the Delta variant and so we are watching that very carefully here. We really want to make sure that same situation does not arise here.”

Walensky added, “We don’t necessarily know whether it leads to increased severity but what we’re seeing in the UK is that younger people have been getting this variant so in the 18 to 30 range.

“Our vaccines are working against this variant but we want to make sure people get two doses of this vaccine to make sure people are protected from this variant because it may not work as well with just one dose of the vaccine,” said Walensky.

For those who are still hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine, Dr. Walensky says when it comes to access there are community-based groups helping with rides and bringing the vaccine straight to you.

“Some people are worried about the side effects and what I can tell you is talk to others who have been vaccinated, the side effects, they’re generally quite mild,” Walensky said.

Walensky says scientists have spent decades doing research in other areas for other viruses. She says that is how they were able to deliver the COVID-19 vaccines so quickly.

New numbers released on Tuesday show Shelby County is at 52.5% of its vaccination goal.

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