SARASOTA, Fla. - There are many reasons why people may choose not to be vaccinated. But it's a choice that has consequences, according to doctors at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, which like other hospitals, is left to bear the brunt of that decision.
"What we used to call the light at the end of the tunnel is becoming a very dim light very far away," said Dr. Manuel Gordillo, medical director of SMH's infection prevention and control unit.
Gordillo said the last three weeks have brought new cases of COVID-19, with nearly all new patients being unvaccinated.
"It just prolongs the pandemic and gives the virus the opportunity to create new variants so we will be dealing with this over and over. If we continue to deal with new variants, it will be a long haul from here," he said.
One month ago, Sarasota Memorial Hospital had single-digit COVID patients, with none in the ICU. Monday morning, 36 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, with seven in the ICU.
"It's concerning and frustrating because we know we have the tools to protect people. This infection has been made largely preventable," continued Gordillo.
The Florida Department of Health shows less than 50% of Floridians are fully vaccinated. With the Delta variant present, Dr. Gordillo said it's a bad mix.
"Once there is more mobility where people interact more and people go out, especially indoors or crowded environments without masks, well, that’s a recipe that the virus loves," he said.
No matter the reasoning, Gordillo said it's a problem. He urges those who have not been vaccinated to rethink that decision before it's too late.
"This pandemic has become the epidemic of the unvaccinated," he added.