On protecting the most vulnerable, vaccines and and the very contagious Delta variant.
by: Mary Jo Allen
Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer at Halifax Health
As chief nursing officer for Halifax Health’s three hospitals, I believe it is important to share my thoughts and the thoughts of many in the medical community regarding variants, vaccines and the vulnerable. First, here is what we know about the COVID-19 Delta variant: It is more contagious than the first COVID-19 variant by four to five times. This means more people are and will become infected with this virus. This is a much more serious threat to life than the first variant.
This leads me to my second point; the three vaccines available are all proven to keep those infected with the virus out of the hospital and now the Pfizer vaccine has full FDA approval for 16 and older, with Moderna and J&J soon to follow for 18 and older. This is not to say that receiving the vaccine will guarantee you won’t need hospitalization but the data shows you are less likely to get sick enough to need hospital care if you are vaccinated. And if you are hospitalized, you are more likely to walk out on your own two feet. On Thursday, Aug. 19, we had our highest patient census of 180 admitted patients who were COVID-19 positive. Around 85% of those patients had not been vaccinated. Now we are seeing a lower patient census, but still much higher than the first surge census by three times.
Third and finally, we need to protect the most vulnerable. Who are they? Anyone over 65 years old, anyone who has chronic diseases like diabetes, COPD, pulmonary disease or cancer and anyone who is immunocompromised for any reason. We should continue to wear a mask and social distance around these groups, which may include children.
Unlike in the earlier surges, we have seen increases in both pregnant patients and pediatric patient hospitalizations. One of our obstetricians recently said they hardly felt the first several surges; however, this one has been markedly different, with pregnant patients having to be hospitalized, some in critical care, some having emergency C-sections to increase their chance of survival as well as their baby’s. At Halifax we’ve not seen seriously ill children, but other facilities have.
To conclude, be safe, take precautions and live your life well.