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Bermudian doctor in the UK appeals to public to get vaccine

Dr Stephanie Smith

A Bermudian doctor who works with Covid-19 patients in the coronavirus-ravaged UK yesterday appealed to island residents to get a vaccination.

Stephanie Smith said she was horrified to watch the fear of patients as they died without their loved ones around them because of pandemic restrictions.

Dr Smith, who works in the intensive care unit at the Princess Royal Hospital, London said that it was important to get the injection “because we do not ever want people to experience what our patients are experiencing every day”.

Dr Smith added that 80 per cent of patients she treated at present suffered from Covid-19.

She said: “The experience has been incredibly tough.

“I’ve worked with patients who have been dying from the disease.

“Unfortunately this is all too common – particularly at the beginning – but sadly increasingly so now too. It is incredibly distressing – harrowing even.

“I think most people would say that when their time comes, they don’t want to suffer. They want to be at home in their own beds and surrounded by the people they love.

“Unfortunately, due to the infectiousness of the virus, our patients cannot have visitors.

“When we admit them, they come in with the knowledge that they may never see their family members again.”

Dr Smith added if patients needed to be put on a respirator “they may never speak to their family members again”.

She said: “If they die, they’ll die with only a personal protective equipment-clad nurse by their side.

“I think people don’t really realise just how terrifying that is until it happens – I have seen that fear up close, when it finally sinks in and it is devastating to witness.”

Dr Smith warned that Covid-19 could have severe after-effects on people who survived it.

She said: “I think what most people don’t realise is just how difficult it is for those who do not die.

“People have become very complacent with the rules so we are seeing a lot more young people admitted.

“Unfortunately, being young is no protection any more, every single day I see young people who are needing ventilating or kidney support.

“They can spend weeks in hospital, unable to talk or eat or drink or walk – something that most young people have never experienced before, which makes it all the harder.

“Then, once they have recovered, they have to learn to do all those things again because the illness leaves them so weak.

“They’re often short of breath on activity, because of the damage that fighting off the virus does to the lungs – damage that may well not be reversible, meaning they’ll experience some level of shortness of breath for the rest of their lives.

“It is horrible and they’re utterly terrified the whole time.”

Dr Smith said she had been vaccinated against the coronavirus and that other should do the same.

She added that fears of a possible allergic reaction were largely unfounded.

Dr Smith told the public: “Please believe me when I say, medical professionals gain nothing from vaccinating you with something that doesn’t work or only creates further problems.

“We’ve read the studies backwards and forwards, we’ve offered our own arms up to be first in line and we’ve signed up our own mothers, fathers, grandmothers and partners at the earliest opportunity because we do not ever want them to experience what our patients are experiencing every day.

“The vaccine finally feels like there is something that we can do to stop all this needless sickness and death.

“If you’re willing to trust us to care for you or your loved one whilst you struggle with the illness, why would you not trust us enough to believe us when we say please, take this step to ensure that we don’t have to?"

Dr Smith was speaking after the first consignment of 9,750 vaccine doses from the UK arrived on the island last Friday.

The injections will be given to healthcare staff, other emergency service workers and residents of rest homes and long term care units from today.

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Published January 11, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated January 11, 2021 at 8:44 am)

Bermudian doctor in the UK appeals to public to get vaccine

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