The pandemic of the unvaccinated. That’s what Dr. Scott Michener, the Chief Medical Officer at Comanche County Memorial Hospital, is calling the coronavirus pandemic right now.

“We’re heading in the wrong direction,” he said.

At one point this summer, CCMH didn’t have any COVID patients. Now, there are patients on ventilators and dying because of the virus.

“I don’t think we have anybody in the ICU that’s vaccinated,” Dr. Michener said. “We are seeing some vaccinated people that are in the hospital, and maybe in Comanche County we’ve seen a little higher vaccinated people than some other places, but nationwide, it’s 5 to 7 percent of vaccinated people are in the hospital.’

Dr. Michener said those are usually older people or people with significant health issues. Alex Stephens, an ICU nurse at CCMH, said she’s had people she’s treating in the ICU ask her for the coronavirus vaccine.

“The saddest thing is when the patient asks you, ‘can I get the vaccine now?’ and you have to explain to them, ‘no, it’s too late for the vaccine now. You’re already very sick. You’re getting close to a ventilator.’ They can’t get the vaccine at that point,” Stephens said.

Dr. Michener and Stephens said people should get the vaccine. Dr. Michener says it’s safe for people to get it.

“It doesn’t make you sterile, and they’re not putting microchips in anybody. There is no lead in it,” said Michener. “This virus is here to stay, and so you can get your immune system ready with a vaccine, or you can take your chances. I promise you don’t want to take your chances. You can ask a lot of people in our ICU…if they get out of there, you don’t want to take your chances that way.”

He said some people think this is something that won’t happen to them, but after it hits close to home, people realize they’re not immune and get the shot. Seeing patients get worse instead of better is not easy for those working on the frontlines like Stephens.

“It’s hard when you see people that are getting closer to your age, your spouse’s age, and you’re like, they have no medical history,” she said. “The one thing they could’ve done differently is getting the vaccine because that’s the one different thing between them and someone else who just came in, got some steroids and went home, so it’s definitely frustrating.”

She said leaving work at work is hard for her because of the situation we’re in right now. Stephens said she’s worried about her patients all the time and about having to be the ones there as a family tells their loved one goodbye.

“You think about your loved ones, and you wouldn’t want to say goodbye through a window,” Stephens said. “You don’t want that to be your last memory, so I think the hospital is doing a really good job at trying to make special circumstances ok for these visits for these families, but it’s still a hard thing.”

If you’d like to get vaccinated, you can reach out to your local health department.