Kansas City, Mo., leaders urged residents Tuesday to take the Delta variant of COVID-19 seriously. According to the Kansas City Health Department (KCHD), the variant is spreading rapidly throughout Missouri.

Their concern is amplified for two other reasons: Missouri has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country and the highest number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people.

“The Delta variant is tricky because those who have it may mistake it for a bad cold. While ‘traditional’ COVID symptoms are cough, difficulty breathing, and loss of taste or smell, the Delta variant displays differently,” an announcement from KCHD read. “The number one symptom is a headache, followed by a sore throat, running nose, and fever. This is especially true for young people, which adds to the concern since they are by far the least likely to be vaccinated.”

Last week, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced the variant has become prevalent in communities throughout Missouri.

In February, DHSS began testing wastewater samples to see if these variants were present. These testing results are displayed in a new layer of the COVID-19 Sewershed Surveillance Story Map.

Only 41% of Kansas City residents have received their first dose of vaccine, and according to KCHD, to avoid a continued spike in cases, the city needs to significantly increase this vaccination rate, especially in those between 12 years and 50 years old.

“If you have been waiting to get vaccinated or to vaccinate your children 12 and older, the wait window is over,” said Dr. Rex Archer, KCHD Health Director. “We are seeing a significant surge in cases in southwest Missouri. There is only a small window of opportunity to get vaccinated before the variant takes hold.”

This variant is 66% more transmissible than the Alpha, or first variant, and twice as likely to have more serious disease. The Alpha variant infects two people for every one person while the Delta variant can infect five to six people for every one person. 

“I am glad to see that thousands of Kansas Citians are fully vaccinated,” Mayor Quinton Lucas said. “However, that means far too many unvaccinated Kansas Citians are still at risk for infection — especially with the more transmittable Delta variant beginning to spread throughout Kansas City and Missouri. I cannot encourage non-vaccinated Kansas Citians enough, to actively seek an opportunity to do so. We must remain diligent, stay home if you’re feeling sick, and continue to encourage family and friends to take the COVID-19 vaccine. We will continue our outreach work to ensure the vaccine is easily accessible for under-vaccinated populations, and to save lives through vaccination.” 

KCHD urged residents to protect themselves, their family, friends and community, by getting the vaccination now. KCHD provides free vaccination opportunities at its office at 24th and Troost and through multiple partners. Free COVID vaccinations are available on a walk-in basis during clinic hours. Or Kansas Citians can call 311 to schedule an appointment. The department continues to work with communities and partners to ensure equitable access to vaccine like Mattie Rhodes Center in Northeast Kansas City, Don Bosco Center in Columbus Park, and others.

Kansas City Health Department 
2400 Troost Ave, KCMO 64108

COVID Vaccination Clinic hours:
Monday – Friday 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Tuesdays and Thursdays 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.