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Doctors concerned vaccine hesitancy will lead to more COVID variants

Demand for the COVID vaccine is dropping and doctors said it could lead to a bigger problem.

HOUSTON — COVID-19 cases and hospitals have plateaued in Texas, but some health officials are concerned the combination of vaccine hesitancy and emerging variants will cause cases to start rising again.

Doctors with the Memorial Hermann Health System said the models they watch project COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths will continue dropping in Texas as we head into summer. However, Dr. Annamaria Macaluso Davidson said that will only happen if people continue to get vaccinated.

“As there’s more hesitancy and folks are not getting the vaccine, we see that plateau a little bit,” Davidson said.

Health leaders at several Houston-area vaccine hubs are seeing demand for vaccines dropping. Davidson said that’s a problem as more contagious variants pop up and spread in our area.

Last week, researchers in College Station found a new variant that they’re calling BV-1 for the Brazos Valley. BV-1 is related to the UK variant and has a “potentially concerning genetic make-up” that indicates it might not respond to antibodies, TAMU scientists said.

“Just one person tested positive at this point, but it just speaks to the point that as people are not vaccinated and the virus continues to spread, it’ll continue to mutate and we don’t want to have a mutation that makes it more effective and contagious,” Davidson said.

Davidson said the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine far outweigh any risks or concerns about side effects. All adults over 16 years old can now get a shot with no appointment and no wait.