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Hospital CEO: Get the vaccine to keep you safe or get the virus to make you sick

COVID hospitalizations in Huntsville Hospital Health System have more than tripled in less than a month.

Health care machinery in a COVID-19 unit at UAB Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama. (VIA UAB)

The chief executive officer of the Huntsville Hospital System in a statement Friday pleaded with the public to get vaccinated as the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients there have more than tripled in less than a month. 

Alabama has the least number of fully vaccinated residents in the nation, and the highest percentage of COVID-19 tests that are positive, with cases and hospitalizations increasing at a pace not seen since the beginning of the pandemic. 

UAB Hospital has begun delaying some elective procedures, a physician there said Thursday, and DCH Health Systems has seen a 200 percent increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the last two weeks, with nearly all of those patients being unvaccinated. 

Below is the full statement by Jeff Samz, chief executive officer of the Huntsville Hospital Health System:

“We implore everyone to help protect our community, our patients and our caregivers by receiving the covid-19 vaccination. It is safe and it is the most effective way possible to limit the spread of the virus. The delta variant of covid-19 is much more aggressive than the original strain and has proven to be far more contagious, infecting an average of three or four other people. This is especially concerning for pediatric patients who aren’t eligible for the vaccine but who remain at risk of becoming infected. One of those children is in our hospital with covid-19 today.

“If you are hospitalized with covid-19 and lucky enough to survive, you are likely facing pulmonary rehabilitation and years of wondering about the long-term implications of contracting a new virus where the future ramifications are unknown. Yes, it’s a new vaccine. But it’s also a brand-new virus. Do you prefer the vaccine designed to keep you safe? Or the virus determined to make you sick. Chances are, you’re going to get one or the other before this thing is over. In the past month, the seven-day average case rate for our community has increased six fold,” 

“Unlike the previous surges, this one was avoidable. Over 90% of hospitalized patients and nearly all covid-19 deaths are in unvaccinated people. If you catch covid-19 today, you probably caught it from someone who chose not to be vaccinated. We have an incredibly effective vaccine, developed by the world’s best scientists, and now given to hundreds of millions of people. It has been proven safe and effective beyond any reasonable doubt.

“When you choose not to get vaccinated and contract covid-19, you may be asking a healthcare worker, who spent the last year and a half dealing with this trauma on a daily basis, to again risk their life to take care of you. Everyone understands there are people with medical conditions that make vaccinations dangerous for them. It’s time for everyone else to get the vaccine and put this behind us. We are overwhelmed by the love and support we received from the community. But we are also exhausted.

“In less than a month the number of covid-19 patients hospitalized in Huntsville Hospital Health System has more than tripled from 35 to 129. The number of covid-19 patients in our ICUs has also tripled, back up to 42. The average age has fallen and the typical covid-19 patient in our hospital is now 57 years old and unvaccinated. In almost every case, their entire family is sick with covid-19.

“We must work together to stop the spread of this virus. Please join us by taking the vaccine and encouraging your family and friends to do so as well. Do this for your families, friends, our community and your healthcare workers.”

Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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