An Alabama doctor has spoken out to urge a tough stance against unvaccinated patients, saying he will refuse to treat anyone who has opted against receiving a Covid-19 vaccine, as the state sees hospitalisations soar.
Jason Valentine, a physician at Diagnostic and Medical Clinic Infirmary Health in Mobile, made the unusual announcement in a Facebook post sharing a picture of the sign stuck on his office door.
“Effective October 1, 2021, Dr. Valentine will no longer see patients that are not vaccinated against COVID-19,” the sign read.
The Facebook post, which has since been made private after it went viral on social media, expressed the doctor’s frustration over people’s reluctance to take the vaccine, and said he saw results immediately after coming out with this stance, reported AL.com.
“First day of these signs in my rooms,” he posted on Facebook. “All 3 unvaccinated patients on my schedule asked where they could get their vaccine today. No conspiracy theories, no excuses. Just where do I go.”
He said if the patients asked why they needed the vaccine, he said he he told them: “Covid is a miserable way to die and I can’t watch them die like that.”
Alabama state is reeling under a Delta-variant driven surge in cases, along with the rest of the country. But Alabama has the lowest vaccination rate in the US as only 36 per cent of its population is vaccinated. Hospitalisations with Covid infections have shot up to 2,900, the fifth-highest rate among states.
Dr Valentine detailed the reasons for his decision, saying that while there is still no “great treatment” yet for severe Covid, it can be prevented.
“Unfortunately, many have declined to take the vaccine, and some end up severely ill or dead. I cannot and will not force anyone to take the vaccine, but I also cannot continue to watch my patients suffer and die from an eminently preventable disease,” he said.
He concluded by saying that if his patients wished to keep him as their physician then they should get vaccinated or “choose another physician”.
“We will be happy to transfer your records,” he added.
The current Covid situation of the state has strained the hospital system in Alabama and the availability of ICU beds is running out, according to the Alabama Hospital Association.
On Tuesday, there were 1,568 patients who needed ICU beds but only 1,557 ICU beds are available for the entire state, Don Williamson, the association’s president, toldWSFA.
“Only 12 per cent of the patients who are in the hospital today are fully vaccinated,” Mr Williamson told the station. “This could have been prevented had we gotten vaccination numbers to higher levels.”