It’s not my style to bang on anybody’s personal freedom. Too many great Americans have died since 1776 so that we will have “liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” I am equally as steady in my stance that to be vaccinated for the coronavirus is a personal decision that each person should make and banging on any “non-vaxer” is not the American way. Encouragement is well and good, but to hurl hurt and hate at another’s personal decision is about as un-American as anything else you can name. Rancor never works.
If you have decided not to be vaccinated, I respect your decision. If you have been ridiculed, “consider the source” and know that you are not alone in your views. Either way, please give a moment to share a story that I read earlier this week about raw reality.
This is what really happens, and, as long as you know the candid truth about this new wave of COVID disease, I’ll be content.
Dr. Brytney Cobia is a hospitalist at the Grandview Medical Center in Birmingham. She’s the one who takes the “admits” from the emergency room and attends their treatment while they are hospitalized. She just told writer Dennis Pillion of AL.com (the Alabama newspaper combine) a very telling and honest-to-God fact:
“I’m admitting young healthy people to the hospital with very serious COVID infections,” wrote Cobia, a hospitalist at Grandview Medical Center in Birmingham, in an emotional Facebook post Sunday. “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.”
As the Delta variant of the influenza begins to boost emergency admissions, Cobia says that of all her recent admissions only one had taken the vaccine. “They needed more oxygen, but they’ll be fine.” Those who didn’t take the vaccine aren’t as fortunate.
“Back in 2020 and early 2021, when the vaccine wasn’t available, it was just tragedy after tragedy after tragedy,” Cobia told AL.com this week. “You know, so many people that did all the right things, and yet still came in, and were critically ill and died.”
With the vaccine in abundance, the playing field has changed. AL.com reports. “In the United States, COVID is now “the pandemic of the unvaccinated”, according to the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Alabama, for example, state officials report 94% of COVID hospital patients and 96% of Alabamians who have died of COVID since April were not fully vaccinated.”
“A few days later when I call ‘time of death’,” continued Cobia on Facebook, “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.”
“They cry. And they tell me they didn’t know. They thought it was a hoax. They thought it was political. They thought because they had a certain blood type or a certain skin color they wouldn’t get as sick. They thought it was ‘just the flu’. But they were wrong. And they wish they could go back. But they can’t. So, they thank me, and they go get the vaccine. And I go back to my office, write the ‘deceased death note’, and say a small prayer that this loss will save more lives.”
Dr. Cobia said that, yes, treating patients who could have received the vaccine – and did not -- is a little different than the early stages of the virus when no vaccine was available, and scores of Americans were dying.
“You kind of go into it thinking, ‘Okay, I’m not going to feel bad for this person, because they make their own choice,’” Cobia said. “But then you actually see them, you see them face-to-face, and it really changes your whole perspective, because they’re still just a person that thinks that they made the best decision that they could with the information that they have, and all the misinformation that’s out there.
“And now all you really see is their fear and their regret,” she continued. “and even though I may walk into the room thinking, ‘Okay, this is your fault, you did this to yourself,’ when I leave the room, I just see a person that’s really suffering, and that is so regretful for the choice that they made.”
The Birmingham doctor urges any doubters to visit with their personal physicians to form the best decision. “I try to be very non-judgmental when I’m getting a new COVID patient that’s unvaccinated, but I really just started asking them, ‘Why haven’t you gotten the vaccine?’
“And I’ll just ask it point blank, in the least judgmental way possible,” she said. “Most of them, they’re very honest, they give me answers. ‘I talked to this person, I saw this thing on Facebook, I got this email, I saw this on the news,’ you know, these are all the reasons that I didn’t get vaccinated.
“And the one question that I always ask them is, did you make an appointment with your primary care doctor and ask them for their opinion on whether or not you should receive the vaccine? And so far, nobody has answered yes to that question.”
Brytney Cobia and her husband (also an MD) have two children and, frankly, she is worried over the fact Alabama is the least vaccinated state in America. “All these kids are about to go back to school. No mask mandates are in place at all, 70% of Alabama is unvaccinated. Of course, no kids are vaccinated for the most part because they can’t be,” Cobia said. “So, it feels like impending doom, basically.”
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So, there it is. The raw truth of what really happens as a treacherous strain of the coronavirus descends in the United States. You still have a choice. Make it an easy one.