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Oklahoma doctors stress importance of COVID vaccination

Posted at 6:41 PM, Aug 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-24 19:56:01-04

TULSA, Okla. — Oklahoma health professionals are urging citizens to get vaccinated as hospitals remain overwhelmed with patients.

In an update with the Healthier Oklahoma Coalition on Tuesday, Dr. Mary Clarke, president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, said your chances of being hospitalized with COVID are much lower if you are vaccinated.

She said you are 70 times more likely to be hospitalized if you are unvaccinated. The death rate is similar. She said those who are unvaccinated and hospitalized are 68 times more likely to die from COVID.

“The unvaccinated people are the ones that are being hospitalized, that are dying at much higher numbers," Dr. Clarke said. "We can talk 90 percent, 95 percent, 97 percent, it doesn’t matter in the long run. It is obvious that the unvaccinated is the hospitalizations.”

This wave of COVID is having an impact on nurses' mental health.

“The nurses are exhausted," said Jill McSparrin, an ICU nurse with Integris. "Mentally. Physically. Emotionally.”

The COVID pandemic is personal for McSparrin. She lost her father to COVID late last year. Now, she said she’s watching people die every day from the virus. And it’s not just infecting those who are older.

“With the Delta variant, we’re seeing younger patients that are really getting sick in the ICU," McSparrin said. "Even pregnant women.”

Hospitals full of patients are taking a toll on those caring for them. They’re already battling a nursing shortage. For the ones that are working, McSparrin said some are considering retiring early or finding a new job. She said they’re experiencing things like PTSD and depression.

“We have started some counseling classes," McSparrin said. "And we’re just trying to work through it, but we’re really questioning whether we can do another season of this and if this continues onto a next season.”

She has a message for those who don’t want the vaccine.

“I just want them to know that there’s not going to be enough beds, there’s not going to be enough ICU nurses to take care of you if you do not get the vaccination," McSparrin said.

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