LEXINGTON, Ky. — Doctors within the University of Kentucky's hospital system hosted a discussion Wednesday to explain the Delta variant and the continued importance for Kentuckians to get vaccinated.

Speaking over Zoom, Dr. Becky Dutch, chair of UK's molecular and cellular biochemistry department, said the medical world expected variants early on in the pandemic.

"Normal viral evolution means you’re gonna start picking up variants; that is, viruses with subtle changes that work just a little bit differently," she explained.

"The issue is that, it’s not that the virus is more aggressive once you get it. It’s just easier to get it," added Dr. Ashley Montgomery-Yates, UK's chief medical officer for emergency services.

While COVID-19 caseloads are manageable at UK, Lexington recorded 53 new cases on Tuesday; its highest total since April. Doctors said nearly every current COVID-19 patient in their departments is unvaccinated.

"It is possible, if you are vaccinated, to still get infected. You just won’t be hospitalized," said Dr. Vincent Venditto, a professor at UK's college of pharmacy. "So, the Pfizer vaccine is 96% effective at preventing hospitalization."

UK Pediatric Infectious Disease Physician Dr. Aaron Grubbs said children have been relatively safer than adults from needing hospitalization because of COVID-19, but they can still easily pass the virus on to others who might be more at risk.

A spokesperson with Lexington’s health department confirmed to Spectrum News Wednesday that at least 13 kids attending the Blue Grass Christian Camp over the previous week contracted the virus. In nearby Ohio this month, a summer camp outbreak affected campers from Kentucky.

This can lead to community spread, and the doctors said it’s important for each member of a family – aged 12 and older – to get a shot.

"I think it’s important that we all do what we can to protect those that we love and those that maybe can’t protect themselves," Montgomery-Yates said.