BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – The CDC reports that the Delta variant is 31% of new COVID cases in Louisiana and the surrounding states. Doctors are continuing to make a push to get more people vaccinated as it appears to be the best defense against the strain.

Delta variant cases continue to double every few weeks and are expected to be the dominant strain in the state by next month, according to the State Health Officer. The greatest risk lies with people who are not vaccinated.

“We do know it is more transmittable. Now, what we don’t yet know everything about is whether it is more virulent,” said David Kessler, Chief Science Officer for the COVID-19 Task Force. “But you know if it is more transmissible, then that means more cases, and more cases means more hospitalizations, and that means more deaths.”

With the variant being easier to spread, more of the younger population is catching it. The Louisiana Department of Health reports 24% of new COVID cases are in people ages 18 to 29. After the state announced its million-dollar vaccine lottery, more than 55,000 people got a shot. 

“I am continuously really taken aback and thankful that the variants remain a good match for the vaccines,” State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter said.

He said Moderna and Pfizer remain between 80-90% effective against the Delta variant. Louisiana remains at the bottom of the list, with only 34% of people ages 12 and up who have gotten both shots. 

“If we don’t get more people vaccinated, if the virus spreads and spreads it’s just going to increase the chance that we have some other variant down the road that might be even harder to deal with,” Dr. Kanter said.

While new cases and hospitalizations are lower, doctors are concerned it will continue to grow.

“It’s going to affect communities in Louisiana that have not yet had enough of their members vaccinated,” Dr. Kante said. “We’re going to see pockets of unvaccinated parts of the state where hospitalizations go up and at this point it’s avoidable.”

More than half a million people have registered for the Shot at a Million incentive by the end of June. The doctors said they aren’t sure what it will take to get more people vaccinated but it is important to help control the spread of the Delta variant.