As the Delta variant helps fuel a surge in Covid-19 hospitalizations in the US, unvaccinated patients are regretting their inoculation status, two health care workers say.

"When they come into the (hospital) system, they say, 'Can I get vaccinated?' And at that point, you can't," Alix Zacharski, an intensive care clinical nurse manager at Miami's Jackson Health System, told CNN's "Newsroom" Thursday.

"We have to let the virus run its course, and then hopefully" the vaccine can be given, she said.

Not all of these patients live to get the chance, an Alabama doctor says.

Dr. Brytney Cobia of Grandview Medical Center wrote this about young people recently arriving at her hospital seriously ill with Covid-19:

"One of the last things they do before they're intubated is beg me for the vaccine. I hold their hand and tell them that I'm sorry, but it's too late," Cobia wrote in a Facebook post Sunday.

"A few days later when I call time of death, I hug their family members and I tell them the best way to honor their loved one is to go get vaccinated and encourage everyone they know to do the same," Cobia wrote.

Covid-19 vaccines are meant to prevent someone from getting the virus or, even if they are subsequently infected, coming down with serious disease.

Unvaccinated people who get Covid-19 and have symptoms should "wait to be vaccinated until they have recovered from their illness," the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

The country is seeing a surge in Covid-19 cases, largely involving unvaccinated people, health officials say.

The US averaged more than 39,900 new cases a day over a week ending Wednesday -- more than three times 2021's lowest average (about 13,000 daily, set on June 22), according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Hospitalizations also are rising. More than 27,700 Covid-19 patients were in US hospitals on Monday -- nearly double the number from June 27, when a 2021 low of 15,982 was counted, the US Department of Health and Human Services says.

These rises have come as the proportion of Delta variant cases has increased.

The Delta variant represented an estimated 83.2% of all coronavirus cases in the US for the two weeks ending last Saturday, the CDC says. That's up from an estimated 31.9% for the two weeks ending June 19, according to the CDC.

Vaccines available in the United States are proving to be effective against the Delta variant. Although breakthrough cases happen, people who are fully vaccinated rarely become very sick.

But only 48.8% of the total US population is fully vaccinated against the virus, according to the CDC -- well below the 70% to 85% that health experts have estimated it would take to slow or stop the spread.

Zacharski urged eligible unvaccinated people to get inoculated.

"We really want to make sure everybody understands: We need your help, to help you," Zacharski said.

The-CNN-Wire

™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

CNN's Theresa Waldrop contributed to this report.

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