A doctor in Alabama posted a blunt and emotional post to social media this week about what she is seeing in her hospital as COVID-19 cases increase, and what dying patients say to her.
Dr. Brytney Cobia says she is seeing more “young, healthy people” in the hospital with very serious COVID-19 symptoms.
“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,” she wrote.
Alabama has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country right now at around 33% of the population fully vaccinated, and the more contagious delta variant is spreading quickly in the state.
“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.
Alabama health officials report 94% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients and 96% of COVID-19 deaths in their state since April were not fully vaccinated.
Studies have recently shown vaccine hesitancy is becoming more entrenched and those who have not gotten the COVID-19 vaccine say there is not much that will convince them to get it.
Cobia wrote about some of the reasons patients’ families have told her why they didn’t get vaccinated.
“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,” Cobia wrote.
“So they thank me and they go get the vaccine. And I go back to my office, write their death note, and say a small prayer that this loss will save more lives.”
Cobia told AL.com, an Alabama-focused reporting outlet, that after treating COVID-19 patients for more than a year and a half, it’s different treating people now that a vaccine is available.
“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 told AL.com. “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.”
Health experts are saying the coronavirus pandemic has become a pandemic of the unvaccinated. As the delta variant spreads in communities across the country, surges in hospitalizations and deaths are happening in unvaccinated pockets of the country.
With the increase in community spread, that also means more “breakthrough” cases, where fully vaccinated people contract the virus.
However, the three vaccines with emergency use authorization from the FDA appear to drastically limit the symptoms and seriousness of the coronavirus, including the delta variant in fully vaccinated people.