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Refusal of vaccine now spiking COVID cases in Valley hospitals

Posted at 4:43 PM, Jul 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-13 21:42:37-04

MESA, AZ — “I’m glad I’m here, before I was having a little anxiety attack even thinking about doing it,” said Maryann Gaytan.

The 72-year-old is getting her first dose of the coronavirus vaccine Tuesday at an event held inside First United Methodist Church in Mesa.

“Like everybody has their opinion, don’t take it, do take it, is it good for you, is not good for you,” said Gayton.

It's hesitation, combined with misinformation that continues to impact vaccine numbers here in Arizona. At this point, just a little more than 50% are now fully vaccinated.

Gaytan says the loss of two friends to the virus motivated her to get the shot. “To see them suffer the way they did, it’s like, I don’t want to fall into that category,” said Gaytan.

“This actually breaks my heart because the reality is we’re still seeing people getting admitted for COVID,” said Dr. Jim Whitfill with HonorHealth.

Dr. Whitfill says nearly all of the patients being admitted at this point have refused the vaccine, even as the Delta variant continues to spread.

“It wouldn’t surprise me to see a situation where our cases start to go up in the next couple weeks because of this variant but we don’t see quite the same level in hospitalizations and knock-on-wood, deaths,” said Dr. Whitfill.

“I had somebody this week who was not vaccinated and ended up on a respirator, and it’s unfortunate because I think based upon what we know and the medical knowledge right now, that would have been avoidable,” said Valleywise ER Doctor Frank LoVecchio.

The proof is in the numbers. According to data from AZDHS more than 95% of COVID cases for the month of may were among those not fully vaccinated. That percentage was a little more than 92% in June. And since January, 99% of all deaths from the virus were in those still unvaccinated.

“We did almost bottom out and have almost no patients with COVID-19 in the intensive care unit, and unfortunately we’ve seen an uptick,” said Dr. LoVecchio.

An uptick Gaytan at least is choosing not to be included in. Medical experts across the board hope more people on the fence choose to take a leap of faith. One that could be the difference between life and death.