Ivey went on to describe the shots as “safe” and “effective,” saying: “The data proves that it works. [It] doesn’t cost you anything. It saves lives.”
But the remarks from the governor grew more pointed when she was pressed on what it would take for greater numbers of Alabamans to get their shots.
“I don’t know. You tell me,” Ivey said. “Folks [are] supposed to have common sense. But it’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down.”
Alabama remains the state with perhaps the lowest vaccination rate in the country, according to the CDC: Only 39.6 percent of its residents 12 and older have been fully vaccinated, compared to the 48.8 percent of Americans nationally who have gotten their shots.
On Thursday, Ivey told reporters she had “done all I know how to do” to boost her state’s vaccination numbers.
“I can encourage you to do something,” she said, “but I can’t make you take care of yourself.”
Federal health officials in recent days have warned of a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” as the highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus surges across the country.
The Delta variant now represents more than 83 percent of the virus circulating in the United States, according to the CDC, and unvaccinated people account for 97 percent of coronavirus-related hospitalizations and deaths nationally.
Meanwhile, the White House has hardened its rhetoric toward social media companies such as Facebook and conservative media including Fox News, urging them to stop the proliferation of misinformation about the vaccine.
A senior spokesperson for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a White House official tested positive for Covid-19 this week, and the Capitol’s chief physician is considering reimposing a mask recommendation inside the complex.
Asked on Thursday about the possibility of a mask mandate for vaccinated Americans, President Joe Biden told reporters his administration would “follow the science.” Government health experts, he said, were “looking at all possibilities.”