Race to vaccinate amid new COVID-19 variant in California

Researchers are tracking another new variant in California that accounts for a third of all cases at the Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. They are also tracking other virus variants.
3:19 | 01/22/21

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Transcript for Race to vaccinate amid new COVID-19 variant in California
And tonight, the pandemic and its enormous toll. And now the new worries about the new variety yants being here seen in the U.S. At least 409,000 American lives have now been lost. And with those new variants showing up, will the vaccines still work? What scientists are saying about that tonight. And here's ABC's whit Johnson. Reporter: Tonight, with a rapidly changing virus, the race to vaccinate millions of Americans is more urgent than ever. We need to curb it, and the best way to curb it is to roll out the vaccine as fast as possible. Reporter: Researchers are tracking another new covid variant in California, accounting for a third of all cases at cedars-sinai in los Angeles. This in addition to that U.K. Variant and one from South Africa which early studies show could pose challenges to the vaccine. Though more studies are needed. The worst case scenario might be that the efficacy would be reduced slightly against the new variant, maybe only 90% or 85% that's still very, very good. Reporter: But tonight, the desperate push to speed up the vaccine rollout. 29 states now leaning on the National Guard to help. But frustration is mounting, as the doses temporarily run dry. From San Francisco to New York, where they canceled 23,000 appointments. We need more vaccine and we need it now. Reporter: At New York's Lenox hill hospital, there's space in the freezer. What we have here is vaccine that's ready to go. Reporter: Those precious first doses will be gone in just a few days without a boost in supply. Appointments all booked. When you open up those appointments, how quickly are they booking up? Minutes. Reporter: Within minutes? Within minutes. I think we opened up 1,000 appointments and they went in just under ten minutes. Reporter: In Arizona, 85-year-old Leonora Ochoa and her son drove 400 miles to Phoenix to get her vaccinated because there were no appointments closer to home until April. Yuma has one of the nation's worst infection rates. We've only had 7,400 doses sent to yuma county. We're not meeting the needs. Reporter: And for so many, it's sadly too late. Brianna Trejo lost both parents within days of each other. Her father got sick before his second dose of the vaccine. We're just like, okay, he gets the first dose, we'll get it and then we'll be fine, you know? But I guess we just ran out of time. Reporter: Dick and Shirley meek just celebrated 70 years of marriage when they contracted covid. Dying in each other's arms, only three days before they were scheduled to get their first shots. Which is why we have to get these vaccinations up and running across the country even with greater Peed whit with us from a vaccination center now at New York's javits center. And with growing concerns whether second doses will even be available on time, the CDC is now weighing in on that guidance, that initial guidance, the second shot, 21 to 28 days after the first shot. They're indicating that there is some wiggle room here, but that you should still get that second shot. Reporter: Yeah, David, the CDC is still recommending that people try to stay within that three to four-week window for the second dose, and they are not encouraging in any way that people delay that second shot, but if you're late, they don't want people starting over from the beginning. Don't wait any longer. Try to get that second dose as soon as possible. All right, whit Johnson, important reporting tonight. Whit, thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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