President NElson Vaccine

LDS Church President Russell M. Nelson receives the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, January 19, 2021, in Salt Lake City.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints renewed its prior calls to members to get a COVID-19 vaccine and to wear face masks in public gatherings on Aug. 12.

Church leaders said in a statement that available vaccines have proven to be both safe and effective and urged members to help limit the spread of the virus. The message was the latest in a series of statements from church leaders encouraging vaccination efforts against COVID-19.

“We can win this war if everyone will follow the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders,” the church said in a statement.

In Utah, where the church is based, a summer surge of the virus among unvaccinated residents has continued to grow while vaccination rates have slightly increased.

New data from the Utah Health Department showed that state residents who are unvaccinated are 7.6 times more likely to die from COVID-19 and 6.2 times more likely to be hospitalized than those who are vaccinated.

About 58% of Utah residents ages 12 and older were fully vaccinated as of Thursday, state data shows. Utah reported three new deaths from COVID-19, bringing the total since the pandemic began to 2,521.