Health professionals advise vaccination before holiday gatherings | News, Sports, Jobs


In this screenshot from the video, Dr. Russell Vinik and Dr. Elizabeth Middleton of the University of Utah Health speak at a press conference on Wednesday, October 13, 2021.

SALT LAKE CITY – COVID-19 may be on the decline in the southwest, but it’s not here in Utah and with the holidays approaching, healthcare workers say it isn’t no time to let your guard down.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen this year, but it’s not too late to get the vaccine,” said Dr. Russell Vinik, director of medical operations at the University of Utah Health. “If you get vaccinated today, you will have some degree of protection by Thanksgiving. We implore the community. Please get vaccinated.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Vinik said the state had seen a slight upward trend in the number of new cases. Hospitalizations across the state stand at nearly 600 with around 230 patients in intensive care units. The numbers, he added, are as high as they were last December and January.

“The big difference is pressure on health workers,” he said. “We hardly have the staff to take care of these patients. We coordinate with all of the hospital systems in the state and almost every day of the week we get pages from hospitals struggling to place patients. Some patients wait 12 to 24 hours in small community hospitals and some of them do not have respiratory therapy let alone an intensive care specialist. Every hospital in the state is strained.

Dr. Elizabeth Middleton, associate medical director of the U of U’s US Health Medical ICU, said intensive care units were full and patients were sicker than she saw last year . She has even cared for people who were vaccinated in intensive care, although most of these patients have underlying conditions that their immune systems cannot fight off as well. Vaccinated patients who are healthy tend to be discharged from the hospital more quickly than those who are not.

“The small communities are suffering and because of the delays people are arriving much sicker. The trend is towards young people and an increase in the number of pregnant women in intensive care, ”she said. “Prevention is the best thing we can do for this. Before spending more time indoors or at large family gatherings, it is really essential to prevent the suffering and the toll of small communities. “

Middleton said there were still many people who refused to be vaccinated. She said she has seen very sick COVID-19 patients and “terrible things”, she has not treated a single patient who has had a reaction to the vaccine.

Continuing to wear a mask is also very important, Middleton added.

“It certainly worked last year,” she said. “I am in favor of continuing to wear masks. We do not know who we are dealing with in the community who may be immunocompromised. “

Cornelio Morales, health assistant at U of U Health, said some families are becoming more hostile towards health workers because they are not allowed to come to the hospital to see their loved ones if they are not vaccinated .

“They are agitated and we are calling security to control things,” he said.

Middleton said she has also seen members of her family become very distressed when they are not allowed to see their loved ones.

“There is a tremendous degree of emotional tension and a level of mistrust at times,” she said. “They will come to us with suggestions that they will read on Facebook or other social media and say, ‘Just give it a try,’ and we have to say that is not how we practice medicine. We let them know that we are thinking about the health and best care of their loved one. “

The three health workers said that as the holiday season approaches, it is more important than ever for the Utahns to take all available measures to prevent an increase in the virus.

“We certainly know that family reunions are one of the primary means of transmission of COVID-19,” Vinik said. “If that happens again, we’re going to have a lot of problems. We have a more virulent variant that is easier to catch. Now is not the time for people to relax. We are not out of the woods yet. Right now in Utah, our cases and hospitalizations are higher than ever before. “

Vinik stressed, however, that if you are suffering from a fatal illness, do not hesitate to go to the hospital.

“Certainly, if you are sick, especially if it is life-threatening chest pain or shortness of breath, please go to the hospital. We will take care of you, ”he said. “We will take care of everyone. You will not be rejected.

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