“We’re frustrated because we’re tired of seeing people die and suffer because they did not take a vaccine,” said Dr. Ahmed Elhaddad, the ICU medical director at Jupiter Medical Center.
He noted that the vaccine is readily available, adding that he and his colleagues were “tired of telling the families that their loved ones are not going to make it.”
Amid a fresh surge in COVID-19 cases around the country propelled by the virulent delta variant of the virus, the situation in Florida is at its worst since the start of the pandemic.
More people are being infected, hospitalized and dying from the disease than at any other time so far. Roughly 52% of Florida’s population is fully vaccinated, and the virus is now running rampant among the unvaccinated and in younger segments of the population who were less vulnerable to previous strains of the virus.
Elhaddad said the delta variant is “eating away at the lungs” of his patients and causing them to die faster.
“It’s causing collapse of the lung. It’s causing air to escape and surround the heart and compress the heart,” he said.
He said he was seeing younger patients in their 30s, 40s and 50s suffering.
“The only thing that we see that is preventing death is a vaccine,” he said.
The hospital does not have any ICU patients that have been vaccinated, nor any vaccinated patients who have died, he said.
He described the emotional exhaustion he and his coworkers go through, having to tell people that they’re dying “over and over and over again.”
“It is very difficult. If it wasn’t for my wife and my kids to go home to,” he said, his voice breaking. “It’s even harder when it’s your friends.”
Wiping away tears, he said that one of his current patients is the father of one of his son’s classmates
“He’s not expected to make it. He was not vaccinated,” he said. “And I also have an ICU nurse that just delivered a baby and didn’t take the vaccine because she didn’t know if it was safe or not.”
“It’s not her fault. It’s not anyone’s fault. We just urge people to take the vaccine because we don’t want to lose anybody else.”
While Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has urged constituents to get the safe and effective vaccine, he has resisted imposing any restrictions, even after the alarming escalation of cases. He has claimed that his state chose “freedom over Fauci-ism,” in a reference to the nation’s top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, and last month issued an executive order prohibiting mask mandates in schools.
A judge blocked that order last week, deeming it unlawful.