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Vaccine rollout gaining urgency as COVID-19 variants spreading quickly through the Carolinas

The CDC said fully vaccinated Americans are better protected against the virus, even against variants like Delta.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The vaccine rollout is gaining urgency as COVID-19 variants are spreading quickly across the Carolinas.

An official from South Carolina's health department said 78% of tests they've sequenced in the past month were a COVID-19 variant of concern. That includes the highly contagious delta variant.

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, 53% of adults in the state are fully vaccinated. Mayo Clinic data shows that 42% of the state's total population is fully vaccinated. In South Carolina, 38% of the total population is fully vaccinated. 

RELATED: The 'Delta Plus' variant is in the U.S., what makes it different from Delta?

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"The more people who are not vaccinated just give this virus more opportunity to develop these variants," Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris said. "The more people that are vaccinated, the less opportunity it has to create variants." 

Now strains like the delta variant are causing concerns for health officials. Delta is more transmissible and can cause more severe illness. The CDC said fully vaccinated Americans are better protected against the virus, even against variants like delta.

RELATED: Delta variant could reverse work done to break free from pandemic

But children under the age of 12 aren't yet eligible for vaccination, and the school year is just weeks away, so what are the best steps to protect them?

"If we want to return to normal and if we want to have our students and their dedicated teachers to have a normal school year where they can catch up on what was lost last year, then we have to do our part by getting vaccinated," said Dr. Knoche with South Carolina's Department of Health and Environmental Control. 

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