The new COVID-19 variants are now showing up in Midland/Odessa hospitals as vaccinations slow down.

According to the Midland Reporter-Telegram, three patients in Midland Memorial Hospital so far have tested positive for the UK variant and one tested positive for the California variant.

Medical Center Hospital in Odessa has one patient that tested positive for the Brazilian variant according to hospital officials.

Variants of the coronavirus have local health officials on edge because the new variants may be less effective to the vaccine in preventing the serious complications and hospitalization.

Preliminary studies have suggested that the vaccines are still helpful in stopping the variants from becoming serious.

Alejandra Garcia-Fernandez, Critical Care Attending at Medical Center Hospital said the most notable difference from the variants and the original virus are that the variants are proving more contagious.

“The main difference is that it’s very similar to the South African strain that was detected a while back,” she said talking about the Brazilian variant. “It has two different kinds of mutations in two very specific places and what those mutations do is allow the virus to replicate and be contagious faster than the initial strains of COVID-19 we dealt with early in the pandemic.”

Garcia-Fernandez said the best way to protect yourself is to continue to wear a mask and social distance, along with getting the vaccine.

“Basic measures that we’ve been pushing for since the beginning of the pandemic are still up to date,” she said. “You can do your life but be mindful and take the precautions that we’ve been offering since the beginning of the pandemic. That’s the only concern people should have. And whenever you have the ability to get your vaccine, please do, because that’s what you can do to help these variants not be able to keep mutating and spreading."

Being smart about preventing the spread is key to getting us back to a pre-COVID normal.

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LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.