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Even some healthcare workers at Jackson Memorial didn’t want a COVID-19 vaccine, so what’s wrong?

Even some health care workers in South Florida remain in the unvaccinated population, but why?
Even some health care workers in South Florida remain in the unvaccinated population, but why?

MIAMI, Fla. – Call it COVID surge 2.0 and the reason by all accounts is squarely placed on people who remain unvaccinated.

On Tuesday, Local 10 News learned that even at Miami’s public hospital, Jackson Memorial, 42 percent of its staff were still not vaccinated.

We asked Carlos Migoya, the CEO of Jackson Health Systems, why?

“Jackson employees are no different than others in the streets. Everyone listens to rumors and being in the health-care business they create more rumors, which is part of the reason why numbers number are low,” said Carlos Migoya, the CEO of Jackson Health System.

Migoya said there are also hesitant first responders who he urges to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We have yet to see public safety — police and fire — get vaccinated, and that’s another plea to make sure that we get all the public safety people out in the community to get vaccinated as well,” he said.

It is a now the common frustration of medical professionals and public health experts. South Florida hospitals have doubled, even tripled the amount of COVID patients they are seeing from a month ago. Hospital numbers are one of the most telling metrics about the spread and severity of COVID in a community.

As of Wednesday, Jackson Memorial 146 patients at Jackson Memorial Hospital confirmed to have COVID-19. And of those 146 patients, 91 percent of them are unvaccinated.

In the intensive care unit, 95 percent of the people are unvaccinated, said Dr. Lilian Abbo with Jackson Health System.

“So this is real and if you don’t want to believe it, I may not be able to convince you,” Abbo said.

Coronavirus patient admissions up at local hospitals with new surge
Coronavirus patient admissions up at local hospitals with new surge

Dr. Robert Goldszer of Mount Sinai Medical Center said that universally, the patients coming into the hospital with COVID-19 are non-vaccinated. “We are seeing 95 to 99 percent non-vaccinated patients.”

And medical practitioners say they are different patients than last summer’s surge.

“It’s younger people who are mostly getting it, which is the part of the population that’s under-vaccinated,” according to Dr. Aileen Marty, FIU infectious disease expert.

Add to that the more powerful Delta variant.

“Much more virus, spreading quickly, shorter incubation, and yes, when you have that combination with the wrong person, it adds up,” Abbo said.

The numbers prompted 2 hospitals to raise threat levels. They’ve curbed visitations and re-implemented strict COVID protections while everyone is trying to figure out what they haven’t said yet that might reach the so far unreachable.

Diagnosis here? Too much mis- and dis- information

Goldzer points to the polio vaccine. “The polio vaccine came out in 1954. There was no internet. People read the newspaper, called each other on the phone, wrote each other letters, and everyone lined up to get vaccine and there was no more polio,” he said.

Abbo has a message to those who like so many others.

“I think at this point after a year and a half, this is not just being selfish, you are affecting public health,” she said.

Migoya’s message? “Right now, equal or more important than masking is ‘vaxing.’ "

About the Authors:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local 10.com.