An Alabama doctor sick of seeing unvaccinated people die of COVID-19 says he will soon turn them away. Dr. Jason Valentine, a physician at Diagnostic and Medical Clinic Infirmary Health in Mobile, this week shared a photo of himself posing next to a sign in his office that explains, as of Oct. 1, "Dr. Valentine will no longer see patients that are not vaccinated against COVID-19," per AL.com. "If they asked why, I told them COVID is a miserable way to die and I can't watch them die like that," Valentine reportedly wrote in a since-removed post.
In a letter to patients, Valentine writes that "we do have great prevention with vaccines. Unfortunately, many have declined to take the vaccine, and some end up severely ill or dead." This comes a month after another Alabama doctor wrote in a Facebook post that all but one of her COVID-19 patients were unvaccinated. "One of the last things they do before they’re intubated is beg me for the vaccine. I hold their hand and tell them that I’m sorry, but it’s too late," wrote Dr. Brytney Cobia, per AL.com.
Days later, Republican Gov. Kay Ivey said "it's time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks" for spikes in cases and hospitalizations. On Friday, in declaring a state of emergency, Ivy described a 100% increase in COVID-19 vaccines administrated in the state in the past month and urged more people to get the shot. But COVID-19 hospitalizations (2,723 as of Tuesday, according to data from the Alabama Department of Public Health) are now nearing the state record set on Jan. 11 of 3,084. The state maintains the lowest vaccination rate in the country, with less than 36% of the population fully vaccinated, per the Washington Post.
Beds in intensive care units are full across the state. Indeed, the Alabama Hospital Association said Tuesday that 11 COVID-19 patients in need of ICU treatment were being treated in hallways, emergency rooms, or makeshift rooms, per WSFA. That number increased to 29 on Wednesday, reports WBRC. "Only 12% of the patients who are in hospital today are fully vaccinated," AHA President Dr. Don Williamson tells the outlet. "This could have been prevented had we gotten vaccination numbers to higher levels." Valentine says his sign is helping. Since posting it, the doctor says three unvaccinated patients have asked how they can get vaccinated, per AL.com. (Read more COVID-19 stories.)