BALTIMORE, Md. — COVID case numbers and deaths continue to decrease but many health officials worry about the virus re-emerging and the spread of variants as the demand for vaccinations drops.
It was just a few months ago when getting a vaccination appointment was next to impossible.
Long waits for those appointments and long lines to get vaccinated are a thing of the past.
Now, people can just walk up and get a shot without having an appointment.
It seems like it should be a good thing, but health officials are concerned about the lack of demand.
Nearly one out of every three Americans is fully vaccinated for the coronavirus but the Association of American Medical Colleges Research and Action Institute executive director Dr. Atul Grover, said it's still not enough to beat COVID-19.
“If we don't get everybody vaccinated, we're all putting ourselves at increased risk because variants are more likely to occur if the virus is out there replicating," Grover said.
There’s a reason why viruses like the coronavirus mutate.
“In most viruses in nature, what happens is, if you can imagine, your body gets infected, makes thousands and thousands, sometimes million of copies of that virus as you are sick. Occasionally some get through quality control that are a little different," Grover said.
Doctors say people who've been vaccinated are unlikely to get COVID or at least not severely ill if they've received any of the three available vaccines.
“Generally what happens is when vaccines work well, and these work incredibly well, is that you never become infected in the first place, you don't become infected, you don't produce the virus, you don't produce a variant," Grover said.
Which is why health officials are still trying to reach those people who have yet to get their shot.
“The variants only occur in nature in the human host. That is, if a virus is floating out there by itself, it doesn't just change, it requires a human being in which to replicate and change. So, the faster we can get people immunized the less chances we have of those new variants popping up across the country," Grover said.
Millions of people got vaccinations to protect themselves against COVID-19 while many others have passed on getting vaccinated. Some believe they'll be protected by herd immunity.
Dr. Grover offers people with doubts about the vaccine something to think about.
“Even if you don't do it for yourself, if you don't do it for your family, you don't know what your next year is going to look like, you may become immune-suppressed. You may need a kidney transplant, those are the people I really worry about, out there, even if they are vaccinated, they are the most vulnerable," Grover said.
Grover said the three current vaccines work against the existing variants which is why the faster more people get vaccinated, the less health officials will have to worry about variants, and the sooner life can return to normal.