With new active COVID-19 cases on the rise, local health care officials are urging residents to get vaccinated to avoid potential hospitalizations.

Officials with Williamson Medical Center announced Aug. 2 it has seen a sharp uptick in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. Currently, WMC has 22 COVID-19 patients, with seven in the hospital's critical care unit. That number is up from just three patients on July 12.

"As with other hospitals, more than 95% of our patients hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated," WMC officials said in a release. "Those few cases of 'breakthrough' infections in people who have been vaccinated generally have shown much more mild symptoms. Overall, the average age of current patients is younger than during previous peaks."

These trends are consistent with what is being seen statewide and nationally as the delta variant becomes more dominant.

"WMC strongly encourages members of the community who are not yet vaccinated to please reconsider," WMC officials said. "We believe that vaccines are working as is evidenced by the low numbers of 'breakthrough' infections and the milder symptoms of those who are vaccinated and do test positive for COVID-19. The vaccines continue to demonstrate high effectiveness against the delta variant in preventing severe symptoms, hospitalizations and deaths. Vaccines also remain the most effective way to reduce the risk of complications from COVID-19 and to protect our loved ones."

Additionally, WMC is also encouraging residents to practice social distancing and wear masks—regardless of vaccination status—when in crowded, indoor situations, in accordance with recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Residents who wish to receive a vaccine can find a local provider at www.vaccinefinder.org.