Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has a message for the unvaccinated residents of her state: The current spike in the highly contagious Delta variant is largely your fault.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, the 76-year-old Republican pleaded with residents to get the vaccine.
"I want folks to get vaccinated. That's the cure. That prevents everything," she said. "Why would we want to mess around with just temporary stuff?"
She continued: "Let's get it done. We know what it takes to get it done and it's to get a shot in your arm. I've done it. It's safe, it's effective ... it doesn't cost you anything. It saves lives."
Her words became particularly sharp when asked about the best ways to convince people to get the shot in a state whose vaccination rate is currently the lowest in the country.
"I don't know. You tell me," Ivey said. "Folks [are] supposed to have common sense. But it's time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It's the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down."
Ivey added that she has "done all I know how to do" in trying to convince people to get vaccinated.
"I can encourage you to do something but I can't make you take care of yourself," she said.
According to the CDC, just 39% of those 12 and older are fully vaccinated in Alabama, where hospitalizations from the virus recently surpassed 500.
The Delta variant — which scientists say is far more infectious than the original virus — is spreading throughout the country, particularly among the unvaccinated.
"The reason it's so formidable is the fact that it has the capability of transmitting efficiently from human to human in an extraordinary manner, well beyond any of the other variants that we've experienced, up to now," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House's chief medical advisor, said during a recent Senate hearing.
Getting vaccinated is the best defense against the Delta variant, Fauci has previously said. Testing has shown that both Pfizer and Moderna's COVID-19 vaccines are extremely effective against the variant, and prevent illness 90% of the time, and prevent hospitalization or severe illness 94% of the time.
Nearly all deaths from the virus in the U.S. are now among the unvaccinated, an indication that deaths and hospitalizations could be far lower if most people in the country got their shots.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a recent press briefing that COVID fatalities have risen to an average of 239 per day. While the spike in cases is being seen throughout the country it's being felt the hardest in areas with lower vaccination coverage.
"Each death is tragic and even more heartbreaking when we know that the majority of these deaths could be prevented with a simple, safe, available vaccine," Walensky said.
Multiple large-scale studies have found that vaccines are safe. There is no scientific link between vaccines and autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control.