AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are climbing across the community as doctors urge the public to get vaccinated.

Some who haven’t gotten the shot say that if the vaccine works, we wouldn’t be in a pandemic. But Dr. Coule says the virus is spreading because not enough people are vaccinated.

“The delta variant exists because of continued transmission in humans. If we had gotten larger numbers of people vaccinated earlier, we wouldn’t have the delta variant to deal with,” chief medical officer at AU Health, Dr. Phillip Coule said. “The reason we are in this situation is because of people not getting vaccinated.”

Others say they won’t get the vaccine because they do not believe it works.

However, Thursday, University Hospital has 105 patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those patients, 98 are unvaccinated. 16 patients are in the ICU, and 15 are unvaccinated. Ten COVID patients are on ventilators, and nine are unvaccinated.

Red = Unvaccinated patients; Blue = Vaccinated patients

“When we look at the deaths so far this year due to COVID, over 99 percent of the people who have expired due to COVID are unvaccinated,” Dr. Cecil Bennett said. “I think that’s the most amazing and should be the most alarming thing to individuals who are not vaccinated.”

Those who are hesitant to get the shot say they fear side effects or major complications.

“These reports about deaths from the vaccine or those serious adverse events are actually very rare,” Dr. Coule said. “In fact, you’re more likely to win the lottery, like the jackpot, or get struck by lightning.”

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, 38 percent of people in Columbia County who are able to be vaccinated are fully vaccinated, and 43 percent have had their first dose. In Richmond County, 33 percent of residents are fully vaccinated and 38 percent have had their first dose.

Click here to see the Georgia Department of Public Health Vaccine Distribution Dashboard.