HAZEL GREEN, Ala. — A continuing surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations across Alabama is causing serious concern among health experts who are worried about the state’s large unvaccinated population, among the highest by percentage in the nation.

One potentially promising sign amid the news, however, is new data that shows a recent uptick in Alabamians getting the vaccine. The White House COVID-19 Response Team says Alabama has seen a 215% increase in the number of newly vaccinated over the last 3 weeks.

At Hazel Green Pharmacy, the volume of first-time vaccine seekers is up 70% this week from last month.

“We’re seeing high school seniors coming in and getting the vaccine. So, definitely, the younger group is wanting to come in and get vaccinated. They want to be protected too,” said Hazel Green Pharmacy certified technician Jeremy Cates.

Still, just 34% of Alabama’s total population is fully vaccinated, among the worst vaccination rates in the country.

Staff says those who are getting the shot now, are largely made up of people who’ve done their research and are now concerned about the Delta variant, which health experts say is more contagious and dangerous.

“I would say to anybody that is still on the fence of wanting to get the vaccine that we do know that it is effective. Even with the new variant that is out, if you were to contract Covid again, your symptoms and your side effects should not be as dangerous as it would be if you were not vaccinated,” said Cates.