The U.S. Surgeon General is warning that misinformation is the greatest obstacle to vaccinating the country against COVID-19 as a dangerous variant continues to spread.
Dr Vivek Murthy told CNN on Thursday that many Americans believe the myths they hear about the shots such as them not being safe or that they alter DNA.
‘There is so much misinformation out there about the vaccine, coming through so many channels – a lot of it being spread on social media,’ he said.
‘It’s inducing a lot of fear among people. Two-thirds of those who are unvaccinated in polls say that they either believe the myths about Covid-19 or think that they might be true.’
It’s a big reason behind why vaccinations in Missouri have dropped by more than 80 percent since April.
However, at the same time, cases have skyrocketed, increasing by nearly 30 percent as the the Indian ‘Delta’ variant takes hold and turning the state into a hotspot.
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy warned vaccine misinformation is the biggest threat to vaccinating the country against COVID-19. Pictured: Murthy speaks during a news conference in Delaware, December 2020
Health officials said this is part of the reason why vaccinations in Missouri have dropped 85% since April as the Indian ‘Delta’ variant takes hold of the state
Missouri currently has the largest share of Delta variant case in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, it also has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the nation.
While 53.7 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose, the percentage goes down to 43.9 percent in Missouri.
This is especially concerning considering studies have found that two doses of the vaccines are much more effective against the Delta variant than one dose.
Murthy said he is worried for unvaccinated people the variant spreads.
Meanwhile, in the Missouri city of Springfield – 150 miles south of Kansas City – only 37 percent of people have gotten at least an initial shot.
However, hospitalizations are up 225 percent since early June and officials say Delta is to blame.
‘Both hospitals here in town are stretched,’ Dr Erik Frederick, chief administrative officer at Mercy Hospital Springfield, told CNN.
Cases in Missouri have risen nearly 30 percent over the last two weeks, due to the Delta variant overwhelming the state
Hospitalizations are rising across Missouri, including in one city to as high as 225% since early June. Doctors say all of their patients who are severely ill have not been vaccinated against the virus
‘We saw a very rapid escalation in our in-patient census starting June 1, we went from 26 to 90 in about three weeks.
‘To go back to last year when our peak started, it took us six to seven weeks to escalate that quickly. Today to hit 97, it really took us almost two months to hit that level which we’ve done in under a month.’
Louie Michael and his wife, Pattie, were two of the COVID-19 patients admitted to Mercy Hospital in June.
Neither of them were vaccinated and said they weren’t against vaccines, but wanted to wait see how they worked in the real world before getting the shots.
However, in the hospital, Michael had a tough battle with COVID-19 and shared update about his health status daily, reported the Springfield News-Leader.
‘The breathing is labored, it’s tough. This stuff is real,’ read one update.
Both husband and wife recovered and were discharged from the hospital, but say they regret not getting vaccinated.
‘I hope people do think about getting the vaccination. It’s your prerogative, but I wish I had done it just to just avoid this,’ Michael told the News-Leader.
‘This new Delta variant, which they do think that I might have had, is just dive bombing everybody who didn’t get the other before.’
Dr Robin Trotman, an infectious diseases expert at CoxHealth, the other hospital in Springfield, says similar patients are being admitted to her hospital.
‘It’s nearly 100 percent of the people hospitalized with Covid pneumonia are unvaccinated,’ she told CNN.
‘Now we do have vaccinated people who test positive, but they don’t get severely ill.
‘When the staff’s putting themselves at risk in these situations, and they feel like other people aren’t willing to take the vaccine, despite their risk, that’s, that’s a hard one for some people to swallow.’