With only about a third of its population fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Alabama has one of the lowest vaccination rates of any state in the U.S.
On Thursday, Gov. Kay Ivey said that those who have chosen not to get the shot are "letting us down."
"Folks supposed to have common sense, but it's time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks," Ivey told reporters when asked how she planned to increase vaccination rates in her state.
"These folks are choosing a horrible lifestyle of self-inflicted pain," she added. "We've got to get folks to take the shot. It's their job to take care of themselves and us as well. We can't do that for them. All we can do is, everybody, take the shot themselves. So, encourage others to do likewise."
Alabama's vaccination rate continues to lag behind the national average as the highly contagious delta variant spreads across the country.
The state vaccine dashboard reports that just over 1.5 million people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series in the state. According to the U.S. Census, nearly 5 million people live in the state of Alabama.
Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 48% of the country is fully vaccinated.
According to the CDC, those who are vaccinated against COVID-19 have significant protections against the delta variant, particularly in terms of severe illness and death. However, those who still aren't vaccinated are at risk of catching the most contagious variant strain of the virus seen to date.
Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 response team coordinator, said during a briefing on Thursday that unvaccinated people account for 97% of recent COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths.
New cases of COVID-19 are on the rise in areas where the vaccination rate is low, and in states like Arkansas and Missouri, hospitals are again beginning to fill with patients sick with the virus.