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Kim Chandler/AP/Shutterstock Kay Ivey
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey is strongly urging residents of her state to get the coronavirus vaccine as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to spread.
In an op-ed published Tuesday in The Washington Post, the 76-year-old Republican blasted anyone who is "pushing fake news and conspiracy theories about this vaccine," accusing them of being "reckless" and "causing great harm to people."
"The unvaccinated folks are being lied to, and that is just plum sad. It is no secret that I expressed some frustration when talking to reporters last week, but the data does not lie, and I simply do not want to see Alabamians, or anyone else for that matter, suffer," she wrote.
Ivey told reporters last Thursday that "folks [are] supposed to have common sense," when it comes to getting their shots, adding: "It's time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It's the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down."
In her op-ed, she acknowledged that there are risks that come along with the vaccine, but noted that the benefits "far outweigh" any risks. "The hard, cold facts show the vaccine is saving lives. This virus is deadly serious, and in the United States, the pandemic is unfortunately becoming one of the unvaccinated," Ivey wrote.
She later added, "We have a weapon today to battle COVID-19 that we didn't have a year ago. It's up to you to use the good common-sense God gave you to do what is best for you and your loved ones."
Alabama is among multiple southern states seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases this past month. The Associated Press reported yesterday that there were 947 total COVID-19 patients in state hospitals Monday, a 204-person increase from the beginning of the month.
"It's the perfect storm of large numbers of unvaccinated people and the Delta variant which is highly infectious and much more transmissible than anything we saw before," Dr. Scott Harris, Alabama's state health officer, told AP.
Dr. Mike Saag, a professor with the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Division of Infectious Diseases, warned of a "wildfire" of cases that's now "burning out of control."
He told AP, "By the time we get to October, if we haven't changed our — for lack of a better word — behavior about getting vaccinated and wearing masks in public, I think we could be in a very bad situation."
The warnings out of Alabama come as the CDC is expected to recommend some Americans continue to wear masks even if they've received the COVID-19 vaccine due to breakthrough infections. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky is scheduled to provide updated guidance on mask wearing on Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET.
CBS News' Senior National & Environmental Correspondent Ben Tracy reported the news this morning on Twitter. "BREAKING: @CBSNews confirms the CDC will announce this afternoon that fully vaccinated Americans should return to wearing masks in indoor public settings due to the spread of the #DeltaVariant," he wrote.
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.