(CNN) — The COVID-19 vaccine has become so polarizing that some people in Missouri are secretly vaccinated for fear of reaction from their friends and family who oppose the vaccine, a doctor told CNN on Wednesday.
“They have had an experience that has made them change their minds from the point of view of their family members, those of their circles of friends or their work circles. And they came to their own decision that they wanted to be vaccinated”, said Dr. Priscilla Phrase, hospitalist and chief medical information officer for Ozarks Healthcare in West Plains, Missouri.
“They did their own research on it, they talked to people and made the decisions themselves,” Frase told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “But even though they were able to make that decision themselves, they didn’t want to have to deal with peer pressure or other people’s outbursts on them … ‘giving in to everything.’
In a video produced in a hospital, Frase said that a pharmacist at his hospital told him: “Several people have come to get vaccinated and have tried to disguise their appearance and even went so far as to say: ‘please, please, please do not let everyone know I got this shot. ‘”
Phrase told CNN that if a patient requests privacy to get vaccinated, the hospital tries to comply with the request, either at the car access window or in their cars.
“Everything we can do to make people feel comfortable getting the vaccine,” said Frase. “It’s not a huge amount, but all the people that we can reach who want to get vaccinated and we can provide that, that’s a win. And we take advantage of all the gains that we can get.”
Missouri has 41% of its population fully vaccinated against covid-19, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the state is one of 49 in the United States that experienced at least one increase 10% in new COVID-19 cases over the past week, data from Johns Hopkins University shows.
Unvaccinated patients get sick faster
Frase said her hospital had 33 admitted COVID-19 patients as of Wednesday and she expects that number to rise.
“The patients that come in are generally younger than the ones we saw before. There are more people who require a lot more oxygen, a lot faster,” Frase said.
“Most of the people we have admitted have not been vaccinated,” he added.
“The most important thing that I think has been shocking to us is that in the fall, in the winter, it took us four months to get to our peak of admitted patients, which is around 22. It took us 30 days to get over that and have up to 33 today, “said Frase.
And it’s not just the Frase hospital that is dealing with the influx of patients in Missouri.
The CoxHealth health system said it is expanding the capacity of the morgue due to an increase in deaths related to covid-19.
“In fact, we’ve brought in a piece of wearable technology that allows the bodies to be cooled and placed outside of the morgue. We’ve had to expand that because mortality has increased so much lately,” CoxHealth President and CEO Steve Edwards said during a press conference in Springfield-Greene County on Tuesday.
– CNN’s Raja Razek and Jennifer Feldman contributed to this report.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism