Preston doctor's plea for everyone to get double jabbed amid worrying rise in young people being hospitalised by Covid
Get double jabbed and quick! That is the plea from a top chest doctor at Royal Preston Hospital, where staff are now seeing a worrying rise in patient numbers.
Dr Mohammed Munavvar who has been at the RPH for 22 years, is the consultant respiratory physician who diagnosed the first Covid patients at the hospital when the pandemic began in March 2020.
He said the hospital is currently seeing a sharp rise in patients with the respiratory disease which he said affected the lungs very badly and which he described as being like a lottery in that there was no way of knowing how badly a person was likely to be affected.
And he said they were now seeing increasing numbers of young people severely affected by the virus, most of whom had not been vaccinated.
The hospital was operating with almost all beds full and tries to get patients home as soon as is safe to make sure space is available, but with winter approaching there was concern that increasing numbers of coronavirus patients would put it under unbearable pressure and result in more non-critical operations being delayed.
The hospital has seen around 700 deaths from coronavirus since the pandemic started in 2020.
He said the treatment now is the best you can get anywhere in the world, but still some people succumb to the virus and die.
Dr Munavvar said: “At the moment we have forty to fifty patients with Covid in the hospital currently.
“Around ten of those patients are in critical care and two to three are in the high dependency unit also seriously ill.
“The people who are seriously ill amongst those, most of them have not had the two does of the vaccine and that is the key issue.”
He said that when he speaks to the patients about why they had not been jabbed, he said they tell him that they have not had the vaccine because they were young and physically fit and did not expect to get ill.
“They thought the disease was a danger only to older or frail people with underlying conditions and so had not taken the advice to get vaccinated seriously. They knew Covid was still around but that the numbers had gone down so they thought they were OK.
“They never expected themselves to become so seriously ill. Young extremely fit people like them, with no medical problems, can become extremely ill. They have never been in hospital before in their lives.
“We have had young people who have succumbed. You find yourself holding their hands, and they say what can you do? Can you get me out of here? They are desperate and understandably so.
“Of course there are a few who have read social media posts about risks of the vaccine and have been misled by that, I would say, because the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the very small risk of side effects.”
He said most of the patients say that if they had their chance over again they would get the vaccine.
The other worrying aspect, he said was the increasing number of pregnant ladies coming into hospital and being seriously ill.
“Again when you speak to them, many were reluctant to get the vaccine, because there was a degree of uncertainty in their mind as to whether the vaccines were safe.”
But again he said the danger of the effects of the disease were far greater than any reaction to the vaccine.
He said the hospital trust had been trying for some time to get the message out and had recently been using a range of around 15 languages in recorded messages on social media to try to get the message of getting the vaccine across.
“Covid is a very serious illness and does not respect anyone, be that age or fitness, we have seen young fit people succumbing to the illness. Go out and get both does as quickly as possible.
“We should also keep wearing masks indoors to help combat the illness."
He said that the patients who had been admitted to hospital with coronavirus who had been double jabbed, had milder forms of the infection and most had underlying health conditions.
“We have done extremely well as a country, passing the 75 per cent vaccinated mark, but we need to set higher targets and pass 90 per cent to keep everyone safe.
“We also need to remain vigilant as other variants will inevitably arise.”
Doctor Munavvar, who himself contracted Covid early on in the pandemic, said that dealing with the disease had been hard on the staff at Royal Preston Hospital, with the extra workloads and emotional trauma of dealing with the numbers of very sick patients and those that did not pull through.
He said: “It has been tough, challenging. As a hospital trust we try to provide a great deal of support - physical, emotional psychological because its not easy.
“It is a desperately difficult illness to manage.
“I caught it in April last year when the treatment was not as good as it is now and I had seen what it could do to patients.
“It was terrifying really, you have family and friends and you worry about how it will affect them. All you saw on the news at the time was doctors dying of Covid. So it was scary.
“Through my work, I am exposed to it all the time so when the vaccines came out I was one of the first put forward and I had no hesitation in getting double vaccinated.
“It is traumatic for everyone involved and challenging for us, that is why we want to urge people to get the vaccine and get double jabbed.
“One of the things that has kept us all going over the past 18 months is seeing the patients recovering and going out of the discharge lounge. That is enormously uplifting, that is after all why we come into the health service.