(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
PHOENIX — About half of Arizona’s population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and a Mayo Clinic doctor encourages the rest who are eligible to do the same.
“As we move toward the fall, I believe that we will be entering the most dangerous period for those that are unvaccinated or choose not to be vaccinated,” Dr. Gregory Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group, said during a call with reporters last week.
He explained that’s because of COVID-19 variants that are emerging.
“One truth we have to face is that every time somebody gets infected, this virus replicates,” Poland said. “And every time it replicates, it has the opportunity to mutate.
“So we ourselves as a species are making this pandemic last longer and be more severe than it ever needed to be.”
The Delta variant is one of the latest ones to emerge. It now makes up about 20% of all new COVID-19 cases nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Health experts worry the Delta variant, which is more transmissible and may lead to more severe illness, could lead to more dangerous coronavirus mutations.
“That is why so much work is going into these clinical trials looking at safety and immunogenicity of these vaccines down to age 6 months,” Poland said.
Currently in the U.S., children age 12 and older can get the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. There are several clinical trials going on to test vaccines on kids younger than that.
Poland said he hopes the use of vaccines for kids under 12 years old will be approved in the fall just as the new school year gets underway.
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