JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – With COVID-19 hospitalizations surging in Mississippi this week, health officials are blaming the Delta variant for the increase in cases. They said the variant is the greatest threat to those who are unvaccinated.

“There’s a lot of kids not vaccinated. A big population that haven’t had COVID before, so everybody who’s not immune is equally susceptible to it. What we’re seeing is transmission in younger age groups,” said State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs.

In a tweet Wednesday morning, Dobbs said 78 percent of the COVID cases between June 16 and June 25 were from the Delta variant.

Experts said vaccine reluctance remains rooted in historical inequalities, myths, and disinformation about vaccine safety.

“Particularly for historically marginalized groups, particularly African American population, but others as well. This trust in the medical system is certainly going to impact willingness to get the vaccine, seek it out,” said Dr. Richard Carpiano, professor of Public Policy and Sociology at the University of California, Riverside.

“Sincerely if all of Mississippi got vaccinated from COVID, everybody who’s eligible, I don’t think we’d see hardly another death from COVID to be honest,” said Dobbs.