COLUMBUS, Ohio — Vaccine hesitancy and resistance could mean COVID-19 will stick around. That is the message being sent by Dr. Iahn Gonsenhauser, chief officer of patient quality and safety at OSU Wexner Medical Center.
He said society could experience serious implications if herd immunity is not reached.
What You Need To Know
- COVID-19 vaccine demand is decreasing across Ohio and the nation
- An Ohio State doctor said not reaching herd immunity means COVID-19 will never go away
- He warned that it will remain like the flu to battle each year
- He said it will unnecessarily cost the economy and lives
“We may never live without COVID again unless more people get vaccinated,” he said. “The fact that people are dying from a disease that is so easily manageable for us is just a shame.”
Dr. Gonsenhauser is openly frustrated when seeing how the demand for vaccines is slowing across Ohio and the U.S.
“If that’s the case, we are not going to reach herd immunity, and I think we’re at the point now where that’s becoming very, very clear,” he said. “And without that, again, COVID is not going to go away.”
He said the consequences of that will cost the economy and lives as society learns to accept COVID-19 as an ever-persistent pest like the flu.
“In the communities where they are choosing not to become vaccinated in large numbers, care will be more expensive, you will see more people getting sick with COVID you will see higher rates of people requiring hospitalization and ICU,” Dr. Gonsenhauser said.
But Dr. Gonsenhauser said society is not diving off that cliff yet, and said the virus, which can be a deadly and debilitating disease, may be wiped off the Earth if the public acts now.
“If you look at how we eradicated smallpox, essentially from existence, it was by vaccinating the population again and again, with broad-based adherence and compliance to the point where there was nowhere for that pathogen to continue to live and we were able to wipe it out,” he explained. “Polio and the same sort of thing — we’ve done this before, we know how to do it, but we can’t do it without the public being on board. So why there are large areas of the public that are choosing to keep COVID in our lives, I just can’t understand for the life of me.”
In the meantime, while cases are dropping, people are still becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 and even dying.
As Dr. Gonsenhauser continues to watch patients lose their battle, his disappointment and frustration is no longer masked.
“Was COVID the reason that they’re now dead?” he said. “Absolutely. You know, COVID is killing people; COVID is taking people from their families. Your choice not to get vaccinated is not a choice to exercise your freedom; it’s not a choice to exercise your first amendment right. “It is a choice strictly to keep COVID active in our communities for the foreseeable future,” he said. “If you don’t get vaccinated, you are the reason that COVID doesn’t get wiped out entirely.”
Dr. Gonsenhauser pleads with anyone hesitant to receive the vaccine to have a conversation with their doctor.