By Lindsey Turnbull
As the United States and, in particular, Florida sees the impact from a surge in new infections from the Delta variant of Covid-19, Jarelys Hernandez-Jimenez, MD, a board certified Internal Medicine Physician, and an Infectious Disease Physician at Cleveland Clinic Florida, urged people in the Cayman Islands to get vaccinated to protect themselves, their children and their community and to keep ICU beds open, at a time when reports indicate that 95 per cent of such beds are in use in Florida.
“We have worldwide data supporting how safe and efficacious these vaccines are,” she confirmed. “You are significantly more likely to get infected and injured from this infection than from receiving the vaccine. The vaccine protects you, your children, and your community. It will help keep hospital and ICU bed opens for everyone.”
Dr Hernandez-Jimenez earned her medical degree at San Juan Bautista School of Medicine in Puerto Rico and completed her Internal Medicine residency at the University of Florida in Jacksonville, and her fellowship in Infectious Disease & International Medicine at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
Vaccinations on the increase
Since the Pfizer vaccine had recently obtained full FDA approval, she said that they were now seeing a big increase in the numbers of people wanting to get vaccinated.
“Many people have been hesitant about getting vaccinated for Covid-19 because it was initially authorised for emergency use and was not fully approved by the FDA,” she advised. “Now that the Pfizer vaccine has been FDA approved, we are seeing a substantial increase in the number of people getting their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine compared to mid-July. Given the present prevalence of the Delta variant, which is hyper-transmissible and deadly, more individuals have made the decision to get vaccinated.”
The Delta variant was causing more cases of critical illness and death in young adults, children, and adolescents, she observed. As a result, Covid-19 related hospitalisations in the state of Florida had surpassed previous records due to this variant.
Dr Hernandez-Jimenez acknowledged that the Delta variant could infect vaccinated people, which is what the medical profession called “breakthrough cases.”
“The Delta variant, however, is notorious for causing more severe illness and death in unvaccinated people. For instance, in our hospital system, 90 per cent of admitted Covid-19 patients are unvaccinated and virtually 100 per cent of the patients requiring higher levels of care and life supportive measures in the ICU are unvaccinated,” she stated.
Covid-19 vaccines are safe and they work, she confirmed, citing studies which suggested that the vaccine efficacy (the protection against hospitalisation and critical/lethal illness) against the Delta variant ranged approximately between 60 to 80 per cent.
“This is significant,” Dr Hernandez-Jimenez said, “especially for vulnerable patients like the elderly, obese, immunocompromised, and those who live with other chronic conditions. Because unvaccinated individuals do not have this extra protection, they are more susceptible to critical and lethal illness, which can lead to a need for intubation and mechanical ventilation (which in multiple instances result in collapsed lungs from the high oxygen pressure they need for proper oxygenation), thrombosis, dialysis, among other dire medical issues.”
Vaccination was, without a doubt, the absolute best resource we have to survive this detrimental malady, the doctor said.