To the editor: I have held my tongue for months but can do so no longer. Yesterday, I read an article published in the Carbondale Times titled, "Number of available ICU beds critically low, as COVID spikes in region." After reading this article, I feel I must speak my mind about the importance of COVID-19 vaccinations for the health and safety of southern Illinois and for the preservation of our health care system.
The article states that nearly all of southern Illinois' ICU beds are being used by unvaccinated patients who are critically ill with COVID-19. Let me be clear; the pain and suffering these patients and their families are experiencing is nothing short of a tragedy.
The article also states that SIH has asked the state for help in the form of additional nurses, nursing assistants, respiratory therapists, lab support and more. What disturbs me, is the thought that someday soon, there may not be enough doctors and nurses to care for the sick and that someday soon, hospitals in the region may run out of beds or equipment. I shudder at the thought that someday soon, doctors and nurses may have to decide who gets a hospital bed and who does not.
I worry too about the doctors, nurses and support staff who have weathered this storm for the past 18 months. I think about how tired they must be. I think about how overworked they are and how stretched thin the staffing must be. I think too about how angry I would feel in their place knowing that it didn't have to be this way.
COVID-19 vaccinations are free and easily accessible in our community, yet only 42 percent of eligible adults are fully vaccinated in Jackson County. It is also well established that COVID-19 vaccines prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. So, when I read the article, and saw that beds are full, and staff are tired, I didn't think too much about the tragedy of the sick. Instead, I thought mostly about how selfish we must be to refuse a free, lifesaving vaccine only to expect a hospital bed be free when we need it, a nurse be available to care for us, and medicine to treat us.
Please don't be selfish. Think of others. Care for your community. Get vaccinated.