PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Some of Dr. Brian Lamb’s patients want to put off their COVID-19 vaccine.

“That’s one of the things we worry about from primary care, is that people are going to say, ‘if it’s changing, I’m going to wait for the new shot to come out,’” says Dr. Brian Lamb, a primary care internist at the Allegheny Health Network.

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The COVID-19 variants are here, even in Allegheny County.

“Most likely, we have more of it in the community than what we’ve actually found,” says Dr. Lamb.

The UK variant was detected by testing random samples.

“When you start to see one case, that means that it is circulating here in the area,” Dr. Lamb says. “We could see the numbers go up with this new variant.”

And even though it is more contagious, it can still be prevented.

“The vaccine is still effective against the U.K. version,” says Dr. Lamb, “Not quite as good with the South African variant.”

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Because more and more variants are emerging, vaccine makers want to see if booster doses or modified shots will be protective.

“We need to do these studies to figure out how do we treat the new variants when they pop up,” Dr. Lamb says, “Can we just tweak that vaccine and give everyone that little booster dose every year or every so many years that a new variant comes out?”

Moderna has developed a vaccine against the South African variant. The company plans to study it in people who have already received the Moderna vaccine. Participants will receive a half dose of the new shot. Moderna will also test the effect of a third full dose of the original vaccine.

Pfizer will study a third dose of its vaccine to see if it boosts antibodies enough to defend against the South African variant, since labs tests show some protection.

“Protection that goes from 95% to possibly 50%, the numbers come down a little bit, but it’s not like there’s no protection,” says Dr. Lamb, “We’re just going to blast it.”

Dr. Lamb tells his patients to get as much immunity as possible now…

“Get your shot now. Don’t wait for the new variants, don’t want for the new vaccines to come out,” he urges.

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It can be followed with adjustments or boosters in the future.

Dr. Maria Simbra