Amid rising COVID-19 cases in Alabama, Dr. Brytney Cobia said all but one of her COVID patients did not receive the vaccine. The vaccinated patient only needed extra oxygen and is expected to fully recover, but many of the others are dying from the virus—and some of those patients are begging for the COVID vaccine as they lay in the hospital.
In a Facebook post written on July 18, Cobia wrote that she’s made a lot of progress encouraging people to get vaccinated lately. But it’s come at a cost.
“I’m admitting young healthy people to the hospital with very serious COVID infections,” Cobia wrote. “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.”
Three COVID vaccines have been widely available in Alabama for months, but the state has the lowest vaccination rate in the country. Only 33.7% of the population is fully vaccinated as of July 21, according to Our World in Data.
Meanwhile, COVID cases and hospitalizations in Alabama are climbing. On July 20, 554 COVID patients spent the night in Alabama hospitals. The week prior, that number was only 260.
This was reportedly the highest total of hospitalizations in Alabama since March 10, when case numbers and hospitalizations were on the tail end of the winter surge Alabama saw. During the peak of winter, Alabama hospitals were treating as many as 3,000 people per day.
The Alabama Department of Public Health reported 8,966 new COVID cases in the 14 days leading up to July 20.
Dr. Don Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association, told WAFF48 that spring was the chance to wipe out the virus because many high-risk people got vaccinated and people were still wearing masks during that time.
Now, not many people are still wearing masks, and the delta variant is catching up and spreading all across the country. And in Alabama (and everywhere else in the U.S.), patients who didn’t get the COVID vaccine are dying. Their families are also suffering.
“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. “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 their death note, and say a small prayer that this loss will save more lives.”
By early August, vaccine rates had slowly begun to increase again in the U.S.
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