AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - While vaccination efforts continue, health officials are turning their attention to rising variants.
In Texas there have been 500 reported variant cases, 90 percent of them are the UK strain, which is reportedly becoming the predominant variant in the U.S.
Health experts believe increasing vaccinations will be key to help fight them off.
11 million doses have been administered in the state, but there is still a long way to go to reach most of the population and get close to herd immunity.
While we work to get there, variants are continuing to evolve. So far, there are five different variants present in Texas.
“I think that is the variable here, is the prevalence of variants,” said Dr. Scott Milton, infectious disease specialist at Texas Tech Physicians “And once again it brings out the point that we need to vaccinate people as quickly as possible. It really is a race to vaccinate as many as possible.”
So far, there have not been any reported variant cases here in the Panhandle. However, Dr. Milton says he is almost certain the variants are already here, adding that the increase in vaccinations have helped fight off the strains locally.
The Director of Public Health for the City of Amarillo, Casie Stoughton said the Civic Center did see a bump in people coming in for their vaccine on Monday when eligibility opened up.
At the moment, about 20 to 25 percent of the eligible population in Potter and Randall County is fully vaccinated.
The state also saw a bump last week, with the highest number of vaccines administered yet.
To increase that, they just rolled out a vaccine scheduler that will help people find vaccine or put them in the system that will alert them when it becomes available to them.
However, the Amarillo Public Health Department expects to remain walk-in
“If there is a point in time that we do need to make appointments, we have a system that ties into our EMR system and so we probably won’t use the DSHS provider,” said Stoughton.