A new report out of Alabama underscores the levels of ignorance about COVID-19 and the vaccine that are alarmingly abounding around the country at a time when public health experts are renewing calls for awareness and vigilance.
Dr. Brytney Cobia, who works at Grandview Medical Center in Birmingham, penned an impassioned Facebook post over the weekend to bring attention to some of the common misconceptions about the pandemic and getting vaccinated that she says have proven deadly for some of the patients she’s treated.
At one point in her Facebook post, Cobia suggested her patients were influenced by race and assumed they could never test positive for the virus, let alone suffer from it.
“They thought because they had a certain blood type or a certain skin color they wouldn’t get as sick,” Cobia wrote in part of the post she published to Facebook on Sunday. As of Wednesday evening, the post had been shared nearly 6,000 times.
Cobia also drew attention to her patients’ regret for being skeptical of the vaccine, something they routinely end up pleading for after they realize their death is certain.
“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,” Cobia 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. They cry. And they tell me they didn’t know. They thought it was a hoax. They thought it was political.”
If that sounds familiar, it’s because those are the lies former President Donald Trump told America as the pandemic continued to claim lives.
Cobia said her patients refuse to accept their diagnosis and still go get the vaccine.
In response, “I go back to my office, write their death note, and say a small prayer that this loss will save more lives,” Cobia wrote in a somber warning to the nonbelievers underestimating COVID-19’s effect.
Cobia’s Facebook post follows a report from the Associated Press that described “conservative, rural white people” as being “particularly” among those “stubborn” 90 million Americans who remain unvaccinated despite its widespread availability for free.
The overwhelming narrative surrounding vaccine hesitancy has been centered on Black people, but Cobia’s account and the AP report contradict that line of thinking.
Cobia is speaking from professional and personal experience. She tested positive for CIOVID-19 just about a year ago and made the same plea to people last year for them to protect themselves.
“Keep your mask on. Don’t be me,” Cobia wrote in a Facebook post last year before the vaccine was available.
The pandemic is far from over, public health officials have cautioned as the delta variant — a more contagious iteration of the coronavirus — surges across the world. They are urging people to get vaccinated to protect against deaths and hospitalizations from COVID-19.
In a recent interview with NewsOne, Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, chair of the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, emphasized how much the new variant has become a concern because it is easier to transmit and more aggressive than prior versions of the virus.
Although some businesses and public offices maintain mask mandates and social distancing protocols, many local and state governments have removed protections. The rush to open could give the misconception that the pandemic is over.
“The pandemic isn’t over; the pandemic is shifting,” Nunez-Smith said just last week. “And so it is becoming more and more urgent to be vaccinated to be protected from the delta variant and other variants.”