As the country's vaccine efforts move in a positive direction when it comes to combating the pandemic, coronavirus variants and how they're affecting younger populations are still a concern for health officials.
The U.K. variant has now become the more dominant strain, and it’s affecting more young people who are still waiting to get vaccinated.
"Because of the past variant, since it was affecting older people, our mentality about social distancing and wearing our masks around each other may be part of the reason it's spreading fast," Aaron Mullins, a college student, said.
Mullins said despite being younger and almost fully vaccinated, knowing these variants are out there is one reason he hasn't stopped taking safety precautions.
"I just know that I'm taking precautions on that and just trying to protect my family," he said.
Health officials say the reason more younger populations are being infected with the variant is partially because many younger people are still waiting to get vaccinated. Officials says the variant is also causing an increase in hospitalizations among young people, with many states seeing a rapid increase in people younger than 50 hospitalized with the strain.
In Madison County, the health department doesn't have an exact number of how many young people have been hospitalized who were infected with the U.K. variant, but they did say a vast majority of variant cases have been the U.K. strain. They say they want all people to continue taking safety precautions, especially if they haven't been vaccinated.
All people over the age of 16 are eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine, which health officials believe will slow down the variant cases.