An Alabama doctor has gone viral after making an emotional plea for residents in her state to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
"I'm admitting young healthy people to the hospital with very serious COVID infections. 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," Dr. Brytney Cobia, a hospitalist at Grandview Medical Center in Birmingham, wrote on Facebook Sunday.
"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. They cry. And they tell me they didn't know," she continued. "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'."
She concluded, "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."
So far, Dr. Cobia's message has over 5,000 shares and 2,500 likes. Over 100 people have flocked to the comments to ask questions and share stories of their own.
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About 34 percent of Alabama's population, or about 1.5 million individuals, have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to state health data.
As of July 20, Alabama was last in the CDC's national ranking of fully vaccinated populations among all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.
"Back in 2020 and early 2021, when the vaccine wasn't available, it was just tragedy after tragedy after tragedy," Cobia told The Birmingham News. "You know, so many people that did all the right things, and yet still came in, and were critically ill and died."
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Now that three separate vaccines are widely available to all Alabama residents, Cobia told the newspaper that the emotional toll on healthcare workers is different.
"You kind of go into it thinking, 'Okay, I'm not going to feel bad for this person, because they make their own choice,' " she said. "But then you actually see them, you see them face to face, and it really changes your whole perspective, because they're still just a person that thinks that they made the best decision that they could with the information that they have, and all the misinformation that's out there."
She added, "When I leave the room, I just see a person that's really suffering, and that is so regretful for the choice that they made."
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