A doctor in Alabama pleaded on Facebook this week for Covid-19 skeptics to get vaccinated — unlike some of her patients who paid the ultimate price.
Dr. Brytney Cobia’s impassioned and sobering Facebook post from Sunday has been widely circulated on social media. The Birmingham physician said people are listening to her firsthand accounts of treating critical patients who regret never getting inoculated.
“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," she wrote.
"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,” she posted.
Cobia’s post was shared about 4,000 times as of Wednesday afternoon.
She also wrote in the post about difficult interactions with people who have lost loved ones to the deadly disease.
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“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,’” Cobia wrote.
“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,” she continued.
Cobia declined a request for an interview on Wednesday, telling NBC News via text that she’s been receiving “threatening messages.”
“I’m a little (ie a lot) overwhelmed and I just need to step back right now,” Cobia said.
Cobia told AL.comthat treating patients with the coronavirus, even those who chose to not get a vaccination, tugs at her heart strings.
“You kind of go into it thinking, ‘OK, I’m not going to feel bad for this person, because they make their own choice,’” Cobia 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 told the news outlet.
Alabama has the lowest vaccination rate in the country. Only 38 percent of the state’s population has gotten at least one vaccine dose, and just 31 percent are fully vaccinated as of Tuesday, according to state statistics. Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases in Alabama has increased by 694, an uptick of 573 percent.
But Alabama is far from alone. States in the South — including Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee — have re-emerged as Covid-19 hot spots. The worrying increases are driven largely by the highly contagious delta variant and vaccine hesitancy, public health officials have said.
Studies have shown that the Covid-19 vaccines are effective against multiple variants, including the delta variant. A recent report from Public Health England, where the variant accounts for more than 90 percent of new cases, found that two doses of the Pfizer vaccine to be 96 percent effective against hospitalization.