University of Alabama at Birmingham HospitalHealthcare worker preparing COVID-19 vaccine.Hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 continue to decrease because of vaccinations, but we still need more people vaccinated.
(Photo by: Andrea Mabry)
 medical staff is caring for eight COVID-positive inpatients today — the fewest since March 22, 2020, when staff were caring for six patients. At its highest point, on Jan. 3, 2021, UAB’s medical staff was caring for 215 COVID-positive inpatients. Doctors say the reason things have improved recently is vaccines — but we need more people vaccinated to not continue to see spikes, hospitalizations and deaths, experts say. 

“Relying on other people around you to get vaccinated to keep immunity levels high and protect you from COVID is like driving without a seatbelt and trusting that other drivers won’t hit you, animals won’t jump in front of your car and your tire won’t blow out,” said Suzanne Judd, Ph.D., an epidemiologist in UAB’s School of Public Health. “The seatbelt keeps you safe when unforeseen things happen on the road. The vaccine keeps you safe when unforeseen things happen with the virus.”  

“With only 31.9 percent of Alabama’s population fully vaccinated, we’re playing a dangerous game of chicken with COVID-19’s continued impact on our future. That’s not the road we need to travel on if we want to put an end to this pandemic.”

Click here to learn more about vaccinations.

Judd has said that Alabama does not yet have a high enough immunity to eradicate SARS-CoV-2.

The Department of Pathology’s Fungal Reference Lab, which analyzes 100 random COVID samples a week for the Alabama Department of Health, also reported seeing an increase in the highly contagious Delta variant. The lab has sequenced six cases of the Delta variant among its samples, including three new cases since June 8. 

The Delta variant is believed to be more transmissible and cause more severe disease and could cause an upsurge in infections in under-vaccinated areas, including Alabama, which has only 31.9 percent of its population fully vaccinated. 

The World Health Organization reported Friday that the highly contagious Delta variant is becoming the dominant variant of the disease worldwide. Today, the WHO said the Delta variant is the fastest and fittest coronavirus strain that will “pick off” the most vulnerable people. The WHO added that the Delta variant has the potential to be more lethal because it is more efficient in the way it transmits between humans. 

But there is an answer to protect against the Delta variant — a COVID vaccination. Current data from the CDC suggests that COVID vaccines authorized for use in the United States offer protection against most variants currently spreading in the United States. 

Published, peer-reviewed research has shown COVID-19 vaccinations to be safe and effective. Read more about the safety and efficacy of these vaccines.

• Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine research
• Moderna vaccine research
• Johnson & Johnson vaccine research

“These COVID vaccines really are a miracle,” said Michael Saag, M.D., professor with UAB’s Division of Infectious Diseases. “The development of this vaccine and its implementation have rescued us from a horrid pandemic in the United States. All you have to do is look around the world, and you’ll see cases exploding still in places where the vaccine is not available. We have the most vaccinated people among all of the countries on Earth, along with Israel. Some states in the U.S. have taken advantage of this. The Southern states are among the lowest vaccinated in the United States. We need to change this if we’re going to get ahead of the pandemic.”

Schedule an appointment for a vaccination through UAB Medicine’s Injection Clinic, located at 539 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd., or visit to find the closest vaccine available to you.