Frontline Doctors & Colleagues Are Weary of Hospitalizing & Intubating the Unvaccinated

This is going to be a long post, I apologize. I have tried very, very, very hard to not post anything about COVID in a long time (because it has become so political which is unfortunate), but as we are seeing another wave, and this time against the unvaccinated mostly, I feel that I have to post something.

For starters, all of the ED, Floor, PCU, ICU nurses and physicians (residents, fellows, attendings) across the country are exhausted. Literally, most hospitals are running skeleton crews to various degrees on all shifts because of burn-out and retirements from this. So yes, people not getting vaccinated directly impacts us, the healthcare workforce, which has already seen one of the hardest years in living memory. On top of that, with us so short handed and tired, it also impacts OTHER aspects of patient care including those admitted for other conditions which are NOT Covid. The outpatient clinic wait times keep increasing across PCPs and all subspecialties as well due to retirements and short staff, so it impacts all levels of care;  there is no escape from it.

The next topic I’m sure is going to upset some people, but I have now lost my patience after the last month of intubating or seeing intubations of non-vaccinated people (who are unvaccinated by choice). All this crap about “awaiting FDA approval” or “how do we know long term effects” and all the other BS that people are using to say not to take the vaccine is starting to bleed into real world issues, even people now refusing to take other vaccines with decades of proven benefit (pneumonia vaccine, shingles, etc.…)

Here is the deal – vaccines are one of, if not the most, significant medical achievement in the history of mankind. To even garner emergency approval, they have to be considered safe (EUA is for safety profile, not so much efficacy, so everyone saying they are awaiting FDA approval for safety reasons doesn’t know what they are talking about). The vaccine will receive FDA approval after final submissions in the next few months, but it has nothing to do with safety (current trials in the 5-12 y/o age group are for safety which is why they don’t have an EUA for that age group until those trials are completed).

Lastly, mRNA vaccine technology has been evolving for decades; it’s not some experiment people pulled out of their ass in the last 2 years. Unlike normal vaccines, mRNA vaccines are “cleaner,” their production cleaner with far less chemicals. They also are the next evolution in not just infectious disease, but in cancer and auto-immune treatments as well. The potential for long term side effects is incredibly small, both from a theoretical stand point, as well as from trials done before the COVID vaccine in phase 1 and phase 2.

People wonder why they should listen to “elitist” scientists – well here is the deal – scientists and physicians spent their lifetime learning this stuff. Your Google degree doesn’t even come close to the amount of time and effort it takes in order to reasonably understand and contribute to this stuff. It’s nothing personal – its just truth.

If you can not read and TRULY understand articles like this – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5906799/ – which was published in 2018 before the pandemic, then the idea that you can be truly “informed” and make a decision grounded in the best research and understand what you are talking about is fairly low. That isn’t meant to be mean – for example I don’t know how to fly a plane, but I do understand the basic concepts of flight. That said, if there was an emergency on the plane – I wouldn’t be commenting to the pilot on how to do his job and which mechanical aspects of the plane need to be tied to keep her in the air!

This is why the CDC, NIH, WHO and others are so important. They take concepts demonstrated in this paper (and many others) and boil it down to concepts which are easier to understand. However, by making the information more broadly available and easier to understand, the nuance of it is lost. This can lead to inconsistencies which people see as the reason not to take the vaccine (among other issues), when in reality it is a side effect of simply making the content easier to understand.

I know this was a very long post, but my colleagues and I are tired of having to hospitalize and intubate more and more unvaccinated people. I understand it is a personal choice, but I STRONGLY encourage you to take the vaccine. The last study showed that it’s estimated at around 96% of physicians in the US are vaccinated. Physicians are nearly evenly split about 50/50 along the political spectrum so all sides are taking it. Take that into consideration, some of the people who understand this topic best – 96% of them took the full vaccine, and are rooting for booster shots as well. If there was an ounce of doubt, many would take the wait and see approach, but to get 96% of physicians to agree on anything, especially something they inject into their own bodies, is truly incredible and should tell you something.

SO PLEASE – listen to the scientists, physicians, nurses, and other allied healthcare workers who are encouraging you to get VACCINATED. It SIGNIFICANTLY drops the hospitalization rate, and especially the mortality rate, of the delta variant even if it is not fully preventive like it was against the alpha variant. In the meantime, my colleagues and I will continue to fight the wars on the front lines in the hospitals, hiding it all from the American public, and hoping that the vast majority of the American population will eventually see reason in regard to the vaccine.

 Nick Germano, DO, is a Pulmonary-Critical Care Fellow at Creighton Medical Centers in Omaha, NE.

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