NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Delta COVID-19 variant is rapidly spreading in several states across the nation including Missouri and Arkansas.

Tennessee doctors are once again warning people eligible for a vaccine to get vaccinated. The goal is to prevent death or severe illness.

“So unfortunately, Tennessee is still ranking very low in terms of vaccination,” said Dr. Jason Martin, a critical care physician.

Doctors are not letting up on the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, but with just 42 percent of Tennesseans with at least one dose and 37.6 percent fully vaccinated, the race to get the shots into arms of Tennesseans before the Delta COVID-19 strain spreads is ongoing.

“First of all, the Delta variant is more contagious, it’s more likely to be spread among folks who are not vaccinated, so our community is going to be more susceptible to it,” Dr. Martin said.

According to the latest critical indicators report from the Tennessee Department of Health, as of June 24, there have been 27 cases of the Delta variant.

“It’s also more likely to land you in the hospital if you do pick it up, and so it’s a more dangerous strain than we’ve seen in the past than the wild type we had last winter,” Dr. Martin said.

The state has allocated $2.5 million for the “Give It A Shot” campaign to encourage vaccinations.

“I think we need to be respectful of people who have legitimate questions about the vaccine, and that’s when healthcare providers need to step in and be available to answer questions, and to provide the data that’s out there,” said Dr. Martin.

But doctors agree, the best way to protect yourself is to get vaccinated