In COVID-19 hot spots across the country where the Delta variant is thriving and vaccine hesitancy is high, hospitals have continued to urge for more people to get vaccinated. In the case of Ozarks Healthcare, based in West Plains, Mo., the health system recently issued an impassioned plea for people to get vaccinated, even if it means doing so in secret.
They offered to answer any questions about the vaccine and help with scheduling in a recent statement, addressing the local community.
Notably, the health system added: “If you are afraid of walking into a public area where you might be seen getting your vaccine, we will work to accommodate even more of a private setting for you to receive your vaccine.”
With misinformation rampant and vaccination status largely divided by political lines, the concept of making a public appeal to offer the COVID vaccine in private seems to be a unique approach.
“Choosing to get vaccinated has been put in a strange light,” Ozarks Healthcare wrote. “For some, getting a vaccine may mean losing friendships. But it is a choice that can impact so many lives other than your own.”
The need to get more people vaccinated has never been higher. Unfortunately, Ozarks Healthcare wrote in its statement that as of July 7, the health system’s COVID patients ranged in age from 30 to 76, and only one had been vaccinated.
“You may think we sound like a broken record,” the health system continued. “Conversations about COVID-19 may leave you feeling worn and trampled on, just like this mask, the accessory of 2020 we never wanted to see again. You probably see the exhaustion in our staff’s eyes sometimes more than a smile. You likely feel just as disappointed as we are, having to run yet another marathon in a race we never asked to run.”
The health system added that it understands getting vaccinated is a personal choice, but doubled down on its plea.
A week after the health system issued its plea, it reported that it had 18 COVID patients hospitalized on Monday, 17 on Tuesday, and 15 that day. The totals marked the highest the health system had seen since early January, and patients ranged in age from 22 to 87.
On July 14, Ozarks Healthcare wrote the following on Twitter: “We administered more than 50 COVID-19 vaccines through our pharmacy yesterday, which is almost double the average we have been seeing! We need many more days like yesterday to make a difference, but we are thankful for those doing their part to help protect our community.”
The health system did not immediately return a request for comment.
Jennifer Henderson joined MedPage Today as an enterprise and investigative writer in Jan. 2021. She has covered the healthcare industry in NYC, life sciences and the business of law, among other areas.