GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)–Health officials across the state continue to keep a close eye on COVID-19 and any variants. Doctors say the Delta variant of the coronavirus continues to be of concern, especially as many schools are preparing to welcome staff and students back through their doors.

COVID-19 cases are on the rise once again in South Carolina.

“This is alarming three weeks ago we saw an increase of 7.5% in cases, compared to the week before. Followed the next week by an 18% increase and then last week by a 58% increase the number of cases,” DHEC Public Health Director Dr. Brannon Traxler said.

Health experts say it’s clear who is being effected.

“We know that based on south carolina and national data that the vast majority of people who are getting hospitalized and dying from COVID-19 are those who are not fully vaccinated,” Traxler said.

In the Upstate, doctors say time is running out to protect children before the school year starts.

“If you have a child that meets the criteria for vaccination, which is 12 years and older, I encourage you as parents and guardians to get your children vaccinated for covid before the school year starts,” Dr. Anna Kathryn Burch with Prisma Health said.

They say it’s important to leave time for the two doses if necessary and the waiting period. And if your child isn’t eligible, you can still take action.

“Making sure that the family members who live at home who are eligible to get the vaccine go ahead and get that vaccine,” Burch said.

Doctors worry that if this warning isn’t taken seriously, the U.S. could see school related outbreaks as is happening in other countries.

“Unvaccinated people are fueling the pandemic, especially unvaccinated young people,” Traxler said.

Meanwhile, DHEC is taking a look at recent CDC guidance as far as heading back to the classroom.

“We are currently reviewing those recommendations and we are using those to draft our guidance for the upcoming year,” Traxler said.

DHEC reports less than half of South Carolinians have been fully vaccinated. DHEC reports 12 known cases of the Delta variant in south carolina. Doctors say getting vaccinated will also protect against a severe case of illness from that variant.