SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KERO) — It has now been about a year since the first COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the United States. Now, in the middle of a vaccine rollout, some are wondering how the new COVID-19 variants may change anything with the vaccine distribution in California.
California Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris wants to emphasize that the public should be remaining vigilant with this virus, even though case numbers are dropping. 23ABC started by asking her if she feels the state could be improving its vaccine rollout in any way.
“The big issue on vaccine supply really is what the state receives from the federal government,” said Burke Harris.
Burke Harris said that supply has been the limitation as far as the COVID-19 vaccine rollout goes. She said California has ramped up its ability to get people vaccinated, but ultimately, there’s not much more the state can do until it gets more doses.
“We work closely with the Biden administration and we’re looking forward to hopefully increase vaccine supply in the spring.”
Another major issue on the state’s plate right now is the emergence of several variants of the COVID-19 virus, which seem to have originated in the UK and South Africa.
The UK variant has already been confirmed in California and appears to be more transmissible. Dr. Burke Harris said the new variant will likely eventually become the new dominant form of the virus in California, but that wouldn’t affect their strategy.
“That doesn't change how we fight the virus: we still fight the virus in the same way. We still expect vaccines to be just as effective.”
Burke Harris said the state is still studying whether the new variant is more deadly than the original. When asked if she has any tips for Kern County residents in the coming months, the surgeon general said that Californians must remain smart and safe about curbing the spread of the pandemic. Even though case rates are dropping, a more comprehensive vaccine rollout is on the way.
“We have to continue to do the things that have demonstrated to be effective, which is washing hands, wearing masks, and waiting to gather.”
Dr. Burke Harris also discussed the usefulness of wearing two masks. It’s something that Dr. Anthony Fauci has recommended, and President Joe Biden has been seen doubling up his masks as well. Burke Harris said, for the time being, wear at least one.