Senate Majority Leader Tom Takubo, who is also a pulmonologist, today used his professional experiences in treating patients to urge West Virginians to get vaccinated from covid-19.
“I’m telling you the vaccines work. They’re keeping people safe. They’re keeping people out of the hospital,” said Takubo, R-Kanawha.
A pulmonologist specializes in the respiratory system. Covid-19 can cause lung complications such as pneumonia. Severe cases can require extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machines, which pumps blood outside the body for oxygenation so that damaged heart and lungs may rest.
Takubo pleaded with people to seek the advice of trusted medical professionals.
“Be careful about what you’re reading on social media, what you’re reading on the internet. Listen to your local providers. They’re seeing it first hand,” he said.
“The one thing I’m seeing is, the vaccine does work. Eighty-eight to 95 percent of patients being admitted are unvaccinated.”
Takubo appeared at a pandemic briefing today with Gov. Jim Justice as the state’s covid numbers continue to get worse.
West Virginia reported 27,607 active cases of covid-19 today.
The state blew past its record number of hospitalizations with 852. The prior high number was 818 last January.
Of those currently in the hospital, the state says 83.6 percent — or 712 — are unvaccinated.
The state also keeps exceeding its previous high numbers of cases requiring hospitalization, now at 267. The earlier high figure was 219 in January.
And West Virginia continues blowing past its previous high number for patients requiring ventilators. That number is now 162. The earlier high, months ago, was 104.
“The people that are primarily dying, the people primarily on a ventilator, are unvaccinated individuals,” Takubo said.
Takubo acknowledged that some people may be concerned about vaccine side effects, but he said he’s not experiencing that in the hospital.
“Show me a hospital that’s overrun by vaccine injuries. I have yet to take care of one person with an injury from the vaccine,” he said.
And although some people dismiss covid as a disease with a high survival rate, Takubo pointed to ongoing health issues that are possible even for those who recover.
“Even though you may survive covid, it worries me – 2, 3, 5 years – what’s going to be the effect of that covid infection?” he said.
Dr. Clay Marsh, West Virginia’s coronavirus response adviser, agreed that people should be careful as the highly-infectious delta variant surges.
“We have seen explosive growth of the delta variant of covid-19,” he said.
Marsh added, “If you are infected with covid and you are at a risk age then you should talk to your doctor about getting an antibody infusion.”
Governor Justice again urged vaccination throughout the regular briefing.
And he again said he is against mandating precautions such as vaccinations or face coverings. Instead, the governor said he favors trying to persuade people.
Of West Virginia’s vaccine-eligible population, 59.7 percent are considered fully vaccinated.
State figures show West Virginia’s seven-day average of vaccinations generally going down recently.
The seven day average was 1,747 on August 31.
It went to 1,645 Sept. 3.
It was 1,407 Sept. 6.
Then 1,338 Sept. 8.
And 1,297 last Friday.
And 1,246 on Sunday.
“Why in the world can’t we just listen and on a voluntarily basis — why can’t we just go get vaccinated? Why in the world can’t we do that on a voluntary basis?” said Justice, who urges vaccination at livestreamed briefings three days a week while giving out prizes to the vaccinated yet another day.
“Nobody’s holding a gun to anybody’s head. Nobody’s saying we have to do this. But really and truly why can’t we do it on a voluntary basis. Then we can stop all the rhetoric. We can stop all the rhetoric of saying ‘by God, I ain’t doing it. This is my freedom.’ We don’t have to have that rhetoric if we’ll just listen to good common sense. We’ll make our own decisions. We won’t need any mandates. But what we hope and pray is we’ll get such a high percentage of people who have stepped up and gotten vaccinated that we can stop this thing. We can stop this dreaded killer.”