Florida Doctor Says 'Almost Every Single' COVID Patient Regrets Not Getting Vaccine

The chief medical officer at Jackson North Medical Center in Florida says "almost every single" COVID-19 patient he knows has regretted not getting vaccinated before contracting the virus.

"We've heard those stories time and time again—almost every single patient who comes in says, 'Oh gosh, we should have gotten vaccinated,'" Dr. O'Neil Pyke told Newsweek. "They have a variety of different reasons for that but folks are sharing regret that they did not get vaccinated in a timely fashion."

With COVID-19 cases on the rise in South Florida and the rest of the state once again, hospitals are being swamped with severely ill individuals who have become infected with the virus. But the one thing most hospitalizations share is that they predominately all involve unvaccinated Floridians.

"The overwhelming majority of patients—90 percent—are unvaccinated when admitted," Pyke said.

Earlier this month, Jackson Health System, the largest health provider in the state, said it saw a 111 percent increase in hospitalizations in the two weeks following the Fourth of July long weekend.

In response, Jackson Health upgraded its COVID threat level to "high" at most of its hospitals and announced it was ending its visitation hours for many patients beginning last week.

Florida Vaccine COVID Patient Hospital Delta
"The overwhelming majority of patients—90 percent—are unvaccinated when admitted," Dr. Pyke said. Here, Dan Lacey, Directeor of Clinical Ops and Reg. Affairs, Memorial Healthcare System, receives a COVID-19 vaccine on December 14, 2020, in Miramar, Florida. . Joe Raedle/Getty

Pyke said while he expected people to gather over the holiday weekend, he was surprised by the massive COVID spike that followed,

"Before July 4, we were really celebrating some great gains with fewer hospitalizations and making strides towards hopefully turning the corner on this," he said. "I'm a bit surprised. I thought we had enough traction going in the positive direction, but the July 4 weekend really put us back.

"I didn't think it was going to be this big of a spike and it certainly was."

He said hospital data has indicated that the surge in cases and hospitalizations has been driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant, as well as COVID fatigue and recent holiday celebrations.

Pyke said people are understandably beginning to gather once again, now that at least half of the population has been vaccinated. But, he added that because many people are asymptomatic, the virus could still be transmitted without our knowing.

"It's always been a problem for us," he explained. "Without symptoms, we're not going to alienate ourselves because we don't know what we don't know. A daughter or a son [could] go visit their family and they're not getting tested. They just assume that they're fine because they have no symptoms."

Despite the recent surge, Pyke said he is hopeful that Florida may be able to get its COVID numbers back to where they were, just in time for Governor DeSantis' August prediction.

DeSantis has suggested that cases will begin to fall next month because COVID-19 is "a seasonal virus and this is the seasonal pattern it follows in the Sun Belt states."

"I'm hopeful with the renewed attention being paid to mitigation measures," Pyke said about DeSantis' projection. "We did a pretty decent job for a big country. I'm happy that we actually headed [the first waves]."

Pyke said he and other physicians will be monitoring the COVID-19 numbers closely this week to see if it will be a possibility for Florida's cases and hospitalizations to decreases again.