By Guy Page
As Vermont health and hospital officials, worried about a coming spike in Omicron-variant cases, chastise unvaccinated Vermonters for filling up hospital and ICU beds, data from last week shows a decrease in Covid-19 impact on Vermont critical care beds.
The number of Vermont ICU beds in use for Covid-19 patient care is down – below 20 – even as total ICU bed availability has increased 64%, according to VT Dept. of Health statistics presented at Gov. Phil Scott’s press conference yesterday.
The entire ‘modeling data’ slide presentation provided to the media may be seen here.
A slide entitled Vermont Hospital Metrics shows that ICU bed availability has about tripled since a low point in early December, when only seven beds reportedly were available. Data for Dec. 21 shows an estimated 21 ICU beds open.
Meanwhile, Covid-19 care ICU bed usage has dropped 16% during the last week – dipping below 20, according to a slide titled “Statewide Covid-19 Critical Care Usage.”
Hospital and Scott administration officials, however, worry the onset of Omicron will send those numbers climbing again. Yesterday, University of Vermont Medical Center President Dr. John Brumstead issued a public letter, explaining in a cover letter to employees that “we need those who are unvaccinated to know that their choices put everyone at risk.” It reads as follows:
“We are working hard to do our part. Please, do yours.
“Across the UVM Health Network, we are doing everything we can to respond to the ever-changing challenges of COVID-19. Today, nearly two years into this pandemic, we continue to fight the impact of this virus. Our emergency rooms are packed. Our Intensive Care Units are nearing capacity. All of our people, providing all types of care throughout our health system, are being pushed to the brink.
“If you have not received your COVID-19 vaccines, you are putting yourself, your loved ones, your friends, your neighbors and your health care workers at risk.
“The battle is far from over. Roughly 75% of the patients we treat in our ICUs for COVID-19-related illness are unvaccinated. In some cases, that number is much higher, and the outcomes are not always good. Similar trends prevail across Vermont and Northern New York.
“What’s frustrating to all of us is that we know our best hope of ending this crisis is vaccination. The vast majority of eligible people living in Vermont (80%) and in New York (75%) have been vaccinated. Yet, if you’ve chosen not to get vaccinated, you’re keeping the virus alive and putting everyone at risk.
We know vaccination isn’t a silver bullet against COVID-19 infection, especially with what we are learning about variants. But vaccination is the best protection we have against a severe case, and it’s the best way for you to stay out of the hospital or the ICU. Keeping you out of the hospital means we have more beds available if someone else has a heart attack, gets into a major car accident, or needs emergency surgery.
There’s a lot of misinformation out there about COVID-19 vaccines. It’s time to set all of that aside and focus squarely on the real-life, hard-earned lessons we’ve learned through the pandemic. With those lessons in mind,” he urges the unvaxxed to vax, the unboosted to boost, and
“If you know someone who is not vaccinated — Help them get a vaccine. And regardless of your vaccination status, continue to do the things we know make a difference: Wear a mask. Clean your hands. Get tested when necessary. Distance when you are around others. Do not socialize when you feel ill.”
Brumstead does not address what is perhaps the main concern of Vermont’s unvaxxed: the potential danger of vaccination. A Children’s Health Defense review of Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System data shows 643,957 adverse events, including 8,456 deaths and 53,780 serious injuries, were reported in the U.S. between Dec. 14, 2020, and Nov. 5, 2021. Vermont Dept. of Health Commissioner Mark Levine pooh-poohs conclusions drawn from VAERS data, saying it is a reporting device only.
Nevertheless, VAERS is difficult for laypeople to read, much less use. Most incident reports are filed by medical professionals. It is also claimed that only a fraction of actual adverse events are reported to VAERS.
So rather than vaccinate, many unvaccinated Vermonters choose instead what they consider a less risky path, including following the other common-sense suggestions made by Brumstead: mask when desired, socially distance, self-quarantine when sick. Many also boost their immune systems with diet, exercise, and supplements, and practice proactive nasal and oral care with an iodine solution recommended by virologist Dr. Peter McCullough and others.
Fully vaxxed DO transmit Covid, Levine says – With Brumstead, Scott, Agency of Human Services chief Mike Smith and others forcefully blaming the unvaccinated for outbreaks, listeners to yesterday’s press conference were surprised to hear yesterday Levine conceding that the vaccinated also transmit Covid-19.
VPR’s Howard Weiss-Tisman put the question directly to Levine: “If someone is fully boosted and not feeling sick, and not showing signs, isn’t it somewhat dangerous that folks walking around not knowing they have it and possibly passing it on?” Levine answered (78:50 mark):
“More than any variant before, this variant has the capability of infecting people who are fully vaccinated and even boosted. Most of them, if not all of them, are going to have a mild illness and not have a serious outcome from that. They will, just like with delta, be capable of transmitting the virus at a point in time in their illness.
“However, if delta is a good example for us, it will be a very brief time period where they are infectious where they have a sufficiently high load of virus in their nasal secretions to be able to transmit it actively to somebody else. But that is part of the evolution of this virus that will occur. So they could potentially walk around asymptomatic as well and be able to transmit the virus.”