Area doctors sign open letter urging COVID vaccinations

Published: Dec. 30, 2021 at 5:53 PM EST
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CANTON, New York (WWNY) - Local doctors are using an open letter to make a plea: get vaccinated against COVID; they’ve seen too much needless illness and death.

The letter begins with these words: “We are heartbroken. We are overwhelmed.” It’s signed by nine St. Lawrence Health System doctors from local hospitals. One is Dr. Julie Vieth, chair of the emergency department at Canton-Potsdam Hospital.

“What were seeing is still this reluctance to get vaccinated. And before, while it might have affected you personally, now it’s affecting your family and our community,” she said.

The letter states doctors are seeing avoidable illness and death because people are not vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Our unvaccinated population is much more likely to require hospitalization, including intensive care unit placement. Our vaccinated population, while we are seeing COVID cases in those patients, they are almost always being discharged home,” said Dr. Vieth.

The letter points out people still have to go to hospitals with things like heart attacks, appendicitis, strokes. But a new COVID surge threatens hospitals’ ability to properly deal with those other conditions.

“Now, an ominous question looms: will you be able to get care from your local community hospital without delay? Today, that is uncertain,” the letter says.

St. Lawrence County has a vaccination rate well below the state average. In Jefferson and Lewis counties, rates are even lower. Resistance to vaccines is high here.

Doctors say it’s getting harder and harder to find hospitals to transfer patients to when they need higher levels of care. Rescue services have said the same thing.

COVID vaccines can be obtained at local pharmacies and St. Lawrence County Public Health’s web site allows people to sign up for vaccine clinics at Public Health as well as others in the community.

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