Lexington Hospitals physicians push COVID-19 vaccines

Gillian Stawiszynski

Physicians from Lexington Hospitals, including emergency medicine doctors and infectious disease experts, met with the Lexington community Thursday to urge COVID-19 vaccinations among Lexington residents. 

“This is a big surge. These are the highest numbers we’ve had since January,” said infectious disease specialist Dr. Daniel Rodrigue. “People outside of Lexington who haven’t been vaccinated are now filling up Lexington hospital beds.” 

Because patients overflow the hospitals and use ventilators and ICU beds for days on end, the doctors said they have had to scale back elective procedures. This means a knee replacement or anything else that doesn’t need to be done right away may have to be postponed. 

“Social distancing and masks won’t do it. We all need to be vaccinated,” Rodrigue said. 

Kentucky governor Andy Beshear has said at this time, there is no need for field hospitals. Out of all the resources that are being used for this surge, the largest issue is staffing. ICU beds and ventilators may be bogged down at this time, but there are not enough nurses to take more patients even if there were more physical resources. 

Addressing concerns about vaccine misinformation, the doctors on the call said the vaccine is safe, and vaccine efforts aren’t a way to help Big Pharma or some other ulterior motive. 

Dr. Roger Humphries of emergency medicine urges vaccination for all. He addressed misinformation by saying many people do not see the front lines, and they likely have not seen people highly ill from the Delta variant. 

“Feeling like you are breathing through a straw is a terrifying feeling,” Humphries said.

Dr. David Dougherty, an infectious disease specialist, emphasized that we are no longer looking at many asymptomatic cases, but highly dangerous symptoms with the spread of the Delta variant. 

“This is affecting young people a lot more than the previous strain,” Dougherty said. “People in their 30s are on ventilators.” 

The vaccine is available at a wide variety of locations. Though the vaccine clinic at Kroger Field closed in May, UK HealthCare is still offering vaccines, and the doctors in this call said that their hospitals vaccinate people as well. 

“It’s mutating all over the world, and we can’t count on being lucky.” Dr. Dougherty said, “If 100% of the population is vaccinated, the virus would have less milieu to mutate.”

To sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine, visit vaccine.ky.gov