By now, we know from experience that vaccines and masks work. Yet, doctors and nurses across the country are battling the worst surge some areas have seen yet, and some healthcare professionals are fed up

What You Need To Know

  • By now, we know from experience that vaccines and masks work. Yet, doctors and nurses across the country are battling the worst surge some areas have seen yet. And, some healthcare professionals are fed up
  • There is no cure for COVID — just as there was no cure for smallpox and polio. But Dr. Morocco says those scourges were eradicated by vaccination campaigns
  • There’s hope. However, that hospital-bed pleas from coronavirus-ravaged patients are turning the vaccination tide, encouraging more people to abandon their concerns and get a safe, effective, free shot
  • Earlier this week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, an endorsement that experts hope will dramatically boost vaccination rates

In an interview for L.A. Times Today, Los Angeles physician Dr. Mark Morocco joined host Lisa McRee to talk about his recent op-ed and how he and his colleagues are angry and hopeful.

Dr. Morocco said the purpose of his op-ed was to get a message out to a broader audience.

"I've been writing a long time, and for me, there are two important things; one is as a person, and the other is as a doctor. So, part of it is a process for me to organize my thoughts, and as you work through a piece to get it right, you often have to critically regard what you mean and what it's doing to affect you, and how you want to frame the question. So as a doctor, I want to get the message out, and hopefully, do something to move the needle a little bit. Often, doctors are dealing with the same feelings about health care as their patients, but more importantly, maybe help them prevent an illness or manage an illness or get a message out to people who are at risk. And so this is a bully pulpit that we want to use in the right way to keep people healthy."

Another reason for the op-ed was for Dr. Morocco to explain the struggle doctors are having regarding the compassion they want to have for patients who end up in their hospital beds who are unvaccinated.

"Well, everybody I know in medicine starts down this pathway, whether you're a doctor or a nurse, a respiratory therapist, any of the things that people do to care for people, we start down from the best of intentions. Nobody gets into this for strictly financial reasons or because it's a steady job, you do because you want to help people. And most people come set from a position of compassion and wanting to help. Then our education and training put a foundation under that. For physicians, there's the famous Hippocratic Oath -- a pledge to some greater power than yourself, that you will be looking at people and the events that occur from that viewpoint. And what happens is that there is what we call compassion fatigue that occurs and that can occur over time, even in regular times. But when you get into a warfare situation and many people using a simile of the war on COVID, it's not that people are shooting at us, but this will last a long time, and there will be battles, victories, and defeats. As a soldier or a doctor goes through that time frame, you can be at risk of beginning to feel a little bit less compassionate about what you're seeing. The professionalism and the training allow you to reset that so that every patient gets your best when you hit the door. So what do we do now with COVID? A lot of my colleagues in all of these health professions are feeling that. And so part of the message of that column is that there are ways to rise beyond that that have to do with kindness and love and trusting the science and getting the message out to the folks who appear to be our enemy and are actually our fellow citizens," said Dr. Morocco.

Recently, there have been some virtual protests by doctors in Florida urging people to get vaccinated.

"Yeah, it's really a remarkable thing; you don't think of physicians as staging walkouts. And this is a symbolic walkout because, of course, nobody left a patient behind. They did it after or before their workload. The walkout is important because we want folks to understand that while physicians have individual opinions as physicians and health care providers, most of everybody I know believes in vaccination; we've been vaccinated for polio and measles and rubella and tetanus. We're worried about all of these things. I say in the column that we did not eradicate polio with a treatment we eradicated with vaccination. In December, we were on the horns of this dilemma, and the idea that we might have to ration care to people because we don't have enough ICU beds for them because of something preventable then with social distancing and masking and being smart about where you were. And now it is even more preventable because there's an effective, safe, completely tested vaccine that is free and easy to get," added Dr. Morocco.

This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted full approval to the Pfizer-BioTech vaccine, and Dr. Morocco believes that will be a game-changer.

"It's nice to have some good news to talk about. This is a full FDA approval, so it takes away one more excuse for folks who, for whatever reason, we're not sure about the process. Now with the full FDA approval, it gives organizations like governments and cities, and businesses a legal reason to require that their employees do the right thing. This is a time to reach out to people who, you know, are hesitant and say, look, I get why you're hesitant, but here's some more proof that you can take it home at night and rest easy knowing you are protecting yourself, your family and your neighbors by being vaccinated because vaccines work."

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