After seeing horrors of Covid-19, health workers urge all to get vaccinated

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Durban – As the country hits the 10 million vaccine milestone and the fourth wave is slated for late December, health workers in KwaZulu-Natal are urging those eligible for the vaccine to join the queues that could save them life.

On Friday, people between the ages of 18 and 35 turned out in large numbers to get vaccinated as approved by the government in a bid to increase the rollout of the immunization program.

Medical specialist Nerika Maharaj was the first health worker in the province to be vaccinated.

“The last few weeks have been crazy. The KZN is behind the rest of the country in terms of the third wave, but we are now at the top and most patients in intensive care or those admitted with serious illness and requiring oxygen support are not vaccinated, ”he said. she declared.

Maharaj said working in the Covid-19 ward at Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital in Umlazi opened his eyes to the horrors of the virus.

“This week we had a group of people admitted to the same street. A family contracted the virus and their neighbors tried to help them, but now they are all hospitalized. I made sure that all of my family members were vaccinated or registered to be vaccinated. “

She said the virus had deprived families of the lockdown and final farewells.

“A mother is currently fighting for her life in intensive care while her son is hospitalized and her daughter just wants to say goodbye to her mother, but we cannot allow it.

“It’s traumatic for families and for us as doctors, we are not monsters but we have to respect the regulations. Having to break the news is heartbreaking because you know what it’s like to lose a family member, but not being able to say goodbye leaves everything in your heart. “

Sister Lolo Ndlovu, head of the intensive care unit at Netcare St Anne’s Hospital in Pietermaritzburg, said the pandemic had deprived them of seeing their patients’ smiles.

“I don’t recognize my patients, I’m sure they want to see our faces too. There is a cloud of loneliness following us everywhere. We miss the hugs, ”she said.

Ndlovu said his unit was the first to receive a 21-year-old patient last year, who was the son of a colleague.

“At that time, we were all worried that once you had covid-19, you would die. We supported and controlled each other, we had to be there for each other.

“Fortunately, the young man survived and this year, on the anniversary of his hospitalization, he celebrated by sending us a message.”

She said that currently there were fewer patients admitted as vaccination and non-pharmaceutical precautions taken by communities were helping.

“I beg people to get vaccinated. Vaccination will prevent you from spreading the virus, it will reduce the severity of the disease and lead to fewer hospitalizations. It represents the difference between a fairly minor illness and a serious illness. We are trying to save lives.

Tim Hilliar from Durban gets the shot on Friday. Photo: Facebook

Private doctor Mags Moodley not only fought Covid-19 in hospital wards but before his vaccination he ended up having to fight for his life after testing positive in wave two.

“I was hospitalized and ended up in intensive care and even a month after my discharge I was still struggling with the symptoms but I survived and I don’t wish that on anyone so people have to get vaccinated.

“At first you heard of colleagues who died or were hospitalized, but since we got vaccinated we are safer and more confident,” he said.

Moodley said that as healthcare workers they suffered from mental, physical and compassionate fatigue.

“It’s been about a year and a half since this pandemic and we are exhausted. We (are) human and everyone has their limits and we are put to the test. We take care of our patients, but at the same time, we become numb and unresponsive to it all. “

Sister Lucia Sikhakane, manager in the surgical ward, which has now become a covid 19 ward at Netcare St Augustine Hospital, said there had been an influx of patients during the second wave, but the numbers had since plummeted.

“It’s scary having to breastfeed little babies, but luckily they’re not that badly ill. Right now there is a huge disparity in the age of the patients we take care of. For example, right now we are looking after a one month old baby as well as a 100 year old patient, ”she said.

Sikhakhane said the loss of patients over the past year had been painful, but it was especially difficult when it came to one of their colleagues.

“We knew some patients, others didn’t, but by caring for a patient, you get closer to them. Losing a patient is difficult, no matter how long you breastfeed, it is always traumatic. Then you keep questioning yourself, asking yourself “have I done enough? “”

She urged all those 18 and over to do the right thing by getting vaccinated.

“A vaccinated patient was recently admitted and the way this patient has progressed is quite remarkable. In fact, the doctor said that this particular patient would certainly have been ventilated had he not been vaccinated.

Sister Marion Irvine, head of the Maternity Unit at Netcare Parklands Hospital, who also works as a vaccinator at the vaccination center at Netcare St Augustine Hospital, shared this for the maternity nurses who care for patients in their surroundings, a place where human touch and personal connection are all important, had become heartbreaking.

“A patient in labor might want you to rub her back, but with Covid-19 all contact is strictly limited,” she said.

“Breastfeeding with a mask, visor and gown is very hard work and you often sweat with sweat. Your patients cannot see your face and it is all the more difficult for them to feel your love because personal protective equipment can prevent you from making a true connection.

Irvine said the deaths of colleagues before the vaccination had taken its toll, but with the vaccination the fear had eased because those who were vaccinated did not get seriously ill.

“To our knowledge, no vaccinated patient has fallen seriously ill. However, we are seeing younger patients this time around and most of them have not been vaccinated.

“I didn’t hesitate when my opportunity to get the vaccine presented itself. In fact, I felt very privileged and I have never been so proud. I would recommend vaccination because healthcare professionals have not hesitated as they know the benefits of getting vaccinated.

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