AUBURN, Ala. (WRBL) – Alabama remains the lowest vaccinated state in the United States as the Delta Variant surges cases across the state where state health officials say the vast majority of people hospitalized or dying are unvaccinated.

The difference-maker for some vaccine-hesitant individuals comes after they’ve experienced being ill or watched a loved one struggle with COVID-19. That was the case for 55-year-old Mike Rabren and his wife, who are now committed to getting vaccinated as soon as they can. The east Alabama family is beloved in their community. They are thriving business owners and giving friends. The family owns Auburn Oaks Farm in Notasulga, where they host weddings, events, and skeet shoots.

On the first of July, the close-knit family banded together when several of them became sick with COVID-19. Unfortunately, Mike tells News 3, he believes they had the Delta variant. Mike and his wife were not vaccinated. However, his parents and his wife’s mother were.

“This stuff is for real. It’s serious. I have never felt so bad in my entire life. I am serious. I am 55-years old, and I don’t think it could have gotten much worse other than death, said Rabren.

Mike received EAMC’s Covid Infusion treatment, and while his oxygen levels dipped dangerously low and he visited EAMC’s freestanding ER in Auburn, he avoided being admitted to the hospital. Mike’s daughter, Ali, never left her parents. Friends dropped off meals and sent up prayers. Mike gets emotional speaking about all his family and friends did while they were so sick.

“She just stepped up and was an angel and made sure everything was done. And the community, I can’t say enough about Auburn. We are just blessed,” said Rabren.

Mike says as soon as he can, he and his wife will get vaccinated.

“My wife and I were not big proponents of the vaccine before this. Now, is it going to be a cure-all? I am not going to say it is, but I saw people that had it and had the vaccine get COVID. My parents and my wife’s mom came through it a lot better than we did. They were still sick, don’t get me wrong. My mom has lung issues, and she’s on oxygen, but without the COVID shot, I don’t think she would have made it. I thank God for that every day. I’m not going to say you gotta go get it, but my wife and I will get it,” said Rabren.

Mike says he gets his flu shot every year and has decided to think of the COVID-19 vaccine in the same way. He says he will get the booster, too, if needed. Mike says he’s feeling much better, and while he still gets worn out, he’s determined to get up and go. Finally, Mike is grateful to celebrate his birthday on Sunday with his loving family and friends.

Alabama Healthcare officials are urging those who remain hesitant to please speak with their physician.