Inoculation frustration: Compassion of doctors, nurses tested treating Alberta’s unvaccinated COVID-19 patients

CALGARY — Months after COVID-19 vaccinations became available to all eligible Albertans, many people are still refusing to get them and subsequently ending up in  hospital.

That’s wearing on the medical professionals who end up caring for them.

“There is an underlying frustration that you feel personally,” said Dr. Yael Moussadji, an emergency physician in Calgary. “However, when you practice medicine…you have to provide compassionate care to your patients, not matter what choices they’ve made in their lives…it is certainly testing the bank of compassion we carry with us on a daily basis.”

Alberta is leading the country in new, daily COVID-19 cases and trailing the national average in vaccinations.

The vast majority of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Alberta have either only one dose of vaccine or none at all.

Dr. Moussadji said it appears that most people who refuse to get shots think they are protecting themselves.

Yael, Moussadji, physician, calgary

MISINFORMATION, NOT IDEOLOGY

“This isn’t about ideology,” she says, “The number of patients that I have seen who are truly anti-vaccination is quite small. Most of the people I encounter who are unvaccinated are for various reasons due to misinformation.”

Dr. Moussadji said many of those patients fear vaccine side-effects that don’t actually exist or have found other incorrect information online.

Alberta’s nurses said the vaccine hesitancy is the fault of the provincial authorities.

“What we are mostly mad about is the way the Kenney government has consistently downplayed the pandemic and not done a really good job of promoting vaccines,” said Cam Westhead with the United Nurses of Alberta, “It’s very demoralizing to have been warning the premier and health minster and Dr. Hinshaw about the capacity of the system…and to have been ignored this entire time.”

Dr. Moussadji said she feels sorry for people fighting COVID-19 who thought they were being safe by refusing a vaccination.

“We certainly do feel compassion for these patients,” she says, “because they now find themselves in a scenario where they do have COVID-19.

“Some of them are quite ill,” she said, “and in some cases this could’ve been avoided or prevented.”

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