COLUMBUS, Ohio — With COVID-19 cases rising in Ohio, the state's top doctor and one of the state's leading infectious disease specialists appealed -- at times emotionally -- for Ohioans to get vaccinated on Thursday.
Ohio Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff and Dr. Steven Burdette, the Chief of Infectious Disease at Wright State University, held a press conference to reinforce the dangers of the delta variant and encourage Ohioans who can get vaccinated to do so.
Burdette made an impassioned plea when he was asked whether or not workplaces should be able to require their employees to be vaccinated.
“Within healthcare ... it is not new to require a vaccine. Hepatitis B has been required for healthcare workers for a long time. For years now, we’ve been doing influenza,” Burdette said. “We have processes in place for exemptions, so if there is a medical process for a reason that you can't be vaccinated, if there's a religious reason you cannot be vaccinated, we have that built into the healthcare system for those health care workers.”
Burdette then said the pandemic has taken a personal toll.
“I'm sick and tired of losing colleagues, OK? I'm tired of having doctors die. I'm tired of seeing respiratory therapists die. I'm tired of seeing nurses die. I'm tired of seeing patient care techs and medical assistants die of COVID, OK? I've lost colleagues. I've lost friends. I've lost peers in this area and across the country. The only way we can stop that from happening is with vaccination," he said. "We have the processes in place for people who cannot be vaccinated for whatever reason. I have no problem with proceeding because I'm tired of losing my friends.”
Vanderhoff did not forecast what will happen next in Ohio, but he did say he's tracking other states, where mounting cases have led to a shortage of hospital beds. That hasn't happened in Ohio, but hospitalizations are increasing.
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