LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 07:  A dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is administered to a staff member at the Ararat Nursing Facility in the Mission Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles on January 7, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. Residents and staff at long term care facilities are on the CDC's highest priority list for vaccinations. While COVID-19 cases in nursing facilities represent just 5 percent of the total cases in California, they account for 35 percent of all Covid deaths in the state. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Covid-19 vaccine safety: Why you still need to use caution
01:54 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

While vaccinations are ramping up across the United States and many parts of the world, some preliminary studies have suggested the current vaccines may not be as effective with emerging coronavirus variants.

With companies looking to develop booster shots that target these variants, some have asked — should I wait before I get the vaccine if there could be an even better one later? Or does the arrival of the variants mean that it’s even more urgent to get vaccinated now?

We spoke with CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and visiting professor at George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, for guidance on how to think about vaccinations in the midst of these emerging variants.

CNN: What are these variants and why could they be problematic?

Dr. Leana Wen: The SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19 is an RNA virus. These viruses are known to acquire mutations as they spread. There are strains that have certain mutations that are of some concern. The variant first identified in the United Kingdom, B.1.1.7, is believed to be more contagious than the existing strains. If a variant is more contagious, it can quickly become the dominant strain and crowd out others. Countries that have the B.1.1.7 variant have seen rapid increases in Covid-19 infections.