Doctor Heartbroken After Having to Tell Dying COVID Patients 'It's Too Late' to Receive the Vaccine
An Alabama doctor's emotional plea for residents in her state to get vaccinated has gone viral after she revealed the human cost of having the lowest vaccination numbers in the country
An Alabama doctor has gone viral after making an emotional plea for residents in her state to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
"I'm admitting young healthy people to the hospital with very serious COVID infections. One of the last things they do before they're intubated is beg me for the vaccine. I hold their hand and tell them that I'm sorry, but it's too late," Dr. Brytney Cobia, a hospitalist at Grandview Medical Center in Birmingham, wrote on Facebook Sunday.
"A few days later when I call time of death, I hug their family members and I tell them the best way to honor their loved one is to go get vaccinated and encourage everyone they know to do the same. They cry. And they tell me they didn't know," she continued. "They thought it was a hoax. They thought it was political. They thought because they had a certain blood type or a certain skin color they wouldn't get as sick. They thought it was 'just the flu'."
She concluded, "But they were wrong. And they wish they could go back. But they can't. So they thank me and they go get the vaccine. And I go back to my office, write their death note, and say a small prayer that this loss will save more lives."
So far, Dr. Cobia's message has over 5,000 shares and 2,500 likes. Over 100 people have flocked to the comments to ask questions and share stories of their own.
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free weekly newsletter to get the biggest news of the week delivered to your inbox every Friday.
About 34 percent of Alabama's population, or about 1.5 million individuals, have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to state health data.
As of July 20, Alabama was last in the CDC's national ranking of fully vaccinated populations among all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.
"Back in 2020 and early 2021, when the vaccine wasn't available, it was just tragedy after tragedy after tragedy," Cobia told The Birmingham News. "You know, so many people that did all the right things, and yet still came in, and were critically ill and died."
RELATED VIDEO: Texas Father of 7 Records Goodbye Video for His Children Shortly Before Dying of COVID-19
Now that three separate vaccines are widely available to all Alabama residents, Cobia told the newspaper that the emotional toll on healthcare workers is different.
"You kind of go into it thinking, 'Okay, I'm not going to feel bad for this person, because they make their own choice,' " she said. "But then you actually see them, you see them face to face, and it really changes your whole perspective, because they're still just a person that thinks that they made the best decision that they could with the information that they have, and all the misinformation that's out there."
She added, "When I leave the room, I just see a person that's really suffering, and that is so regretful for the choice that they made."
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.