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As daily COVID-19 averages soar above last summer’s spike, doctor shares vaccination fears from patients

State’s vaccination efforts on track to outpace previous weeks with eight thousand shots per day thus far
Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 9:25 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - For the fourth week in a row, COVID-19 vaccinations are estimated to finish higher this week than last, with more than eight thousand shots per day already given, fueled by efforts of doctors appealing to patients who remain fearful of the injection.

Thursday’s reported coronavirus cases sent the seven-day average to 1,428 cases, which surpassed last summer’s peak of 1,381 on July 26.

“I have put many people on the ventilators, younger folks who have looked at me and said, ‘I want the vaccine now,’ and unfortunately, it’s too late. They can’t get the vaccine,” said Dr. Steve Threlkeld, who serves as director of infectious disease for Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis. “And if you have never been unable to breathe, I can assure you that drowning above water will change your perspective on life in a number of ways.”

The goal, Threlkeld said, is reaching that patient before it gets to that point, which is easier said than done.

One of the most common fears he’s heard thus far: the vaccine hasn’t had enough time to be developed.

“The first animal studies and RNA vaccinations were done in 1990. You know, one of the companies, Moderna, its sole purpose is to make an RNA vaccine. It was founded in 2010. So people have been working on this literally for decades,” Threlkeld said.

Some also genuinely believe the vaccine is part of a government conspiracy intended to control people, he said.

“Last time I checked, both presidential candidates in 2020 got the vaccine. They both even take credit for the vaccine, mind you. And we can debate all day long about who deserves more credit, whether in production or distribution, what have you,” Threlkeld said. “I think it’s pretty clear to everybody, though, that they didn’t get together in a room and hug and decide to put a big one over on the American people and blame each other later.”

What disturbs him most about his patient interactions?

People just aren’t afraid enough of COVID-19 because they haven’t seen exactly what it can do to the human body.

“I think it’s a very important thing to get these vaccines to places where folks’ questions and fears can be met where they are. People have, of course, real concerns, real fears about this,” Threlkeld said. “I’m convinced that if people are exposed to them who had the real answers and know the information, they will then, like I did, really want the vaccine.”

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