COVID-19 vaccine could hopefully lighten the pandemic’s burden on hospitals

JACKSON CO., Or- Even with a vaccine on the horizon, Jackson County is still seeing a high number of COVID-19 cases. While there’s encouraging news with the vaccine in Oregon the fight against COVID-19 continues as hospitals continue to shoulder the burden of the pandemic.

While COVID-19 vaccines bring hope for a end to the pandemic, Jackson County is still fighting against rising cases, topping 5,000 cases for the first time Wednesday. The biggest local impact from this is the strain on hospitals.

“Once you need to be in the hospital it pretty much means you’re going to need oxygen, you’re going to need fluids, you’re going to need a throughout evaluation and close monitoring,” explained Dr. Jim shames of Jackson County Health and Human services says some of that is due to where the virus spreads.

“Once we had COVID in the nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities and memory care that those people inherently are probably going to get sicker and require more management,” he said. But there are also issues with people who have recovered from coronavirus.

Dr. Shames says about a quarter of people released for COVID-19 will return because of continuing issues.

“There’s a large percentage of people who have persistent headaches and fatigue and memory issues and pains and lung problems and organ failure,” Dr. Shames explained of recovered COVID cases.

Many medical facilities say the strain is also because of staffing problems. According to Shames , that’s the whole point of vaccinating front line workers first.

“Vaccinating health care workers on the front line first that you can assure that they are going to be able to be there for you because yes, personnel is generally the weakest link in all of this,” he said of protecting medical workers. Shames hopes they will be protected from the virus and better able to focus on helping people in need.

“We have an excess of respirators, ventilators. But it takes skilled personnel, many skilled personnel to safely ventilate somebody. So the equipment is one thing but the personnel is another,” he said.

Dr. Shames says the next week or two of distributing and administering the vaccine will give valuable information on when, where, and who to vaccinate next.

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