Klamath Falls hospital urging people to get vaccinated for COVID-19

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — Health officials in Klamath Falls said they’ve seen a surge in COVID-19 cases lately and are struggling to get people vaccinated.

“It’s not sitting on the bedside anymore holding their hands,” said Sabrina Duvall, describing the impact the pandemic has had on her as a nurse.

Duvall works at Sky Lakes Medical Center in Klamath Falls and has worked with dozens of COVID-19 patients in the hospital’s COVID unit.

When the chance to get the vaccine came around, she, like many, was hesitant. “I did wait and I ended up getting COVID,” Duvall said she was sick for about eight days, but it was the after-effects that really took their toll.

“My heart rate was irregular, it was fast, I was always short of breath.” she said, “and this took two months to finally really feel like I’m getting back to normal.”

Now, vaccinated herself, she’s helping to vaccinate members of her community.

“I’ve seen so many hopeful and optimistic people in the last three months working in the vaccine clinic, everyone that I have come across is happy to be there,” Duvall said.

Medical experts at Sky Lakes said when vaccines first became available, it was a fast dash to get the shot.

“In the last month that has stopped,” said Dr. Grant Niskanen, VP of Medical Affairs for Sky Lakes.

Dr. Niskanen said about 40 percent of adults in Klamath County are vaccinated. While that’s almost half, he said there’s still a large percentage of people that aren’t vaccinated. “I think that’s why you’re seeing we’re definitely having a surge here in Klamath Falls,” Dr Niskanen said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates vaccine hesitancy in every county across the United States. Its interactive map shows the percentage of people probably or definitely not getting the vaccine. Klamath County is one of the most hesitant counties in the state at 18 percent.

“It comes down to about two basic groups of people,” Dr. Niskanen said. “There are sort of the young, healthy people…I’m in good health, if I get COVID it’s not going to be that big of a deal.” Dr. Niskanen said the other group is people with mistrust in the system and are misinformed. 

“We somehow have to sort of think of this as not just an individual or a government thing, this is actually a community,” he said.

Dr. Niskanen said the chance of dying from COVID-19 is about one to 201-250. The chance of dying from the COVID-19 vaccine is one in millions.

“One of my patients yesterday said well there’s someone that died from the vaccine,” Dr. Niskanen said. “Well, we’ve had over 550,000 people die from COVID.”

Health officials said with the surge of cases, it’s more important now than ever to protect yourself and those around you.

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