NEW BRITAIN – Hartford HealthCare has more than 97% of its full-time employees vaccinated and continues to say vaccination is the best approach to being able to manage the pandemic.
“I think our colleagues have really stepped up and received the vaccination and have really done a great job,” said Ajay Kumar, chief clinical officer, Hartford HealthCare. “We still have a few more weeks to go, but I’m confident minus the exemptions, Hartford HealthCare will be in a very good position with vaccination rates by the end of September.”
By continuing to improve the vaccination rate, Kumar believes healthcare systems will be able to manage the pandemic well going forward.
“The way that people are looking at the vaccines they are looking at it as prevention of disease and that’s really not the way to look at it,” said Ulysses Wu, system director, infectious diseases, Hartford HealthCare. “It is really about protecting those who get the disease and taking a severe illness and turning it into a less severe illness.”
Kumar said there are very few patients who are vaccinated requiring ICU or critical care at the moment. But there are a large number of patients who are unvaccinated requiring significant amount of care, such as oxygen ventilation and other support.
“We have noticed that the breakthrough infections, which is defined by somebody who is fully vaccinated more than 14 days after the last vaccination, have been hovering around 25-27% of those individuals who are in the hospital requiring a hospital stay,” he said.
Those individuals coming in with breakthrough infections are generally well managed make a good recovery as well, Kumar said.
“One of the things we’re hearing about the vaccine that I see out there in social media is ‘well, why bother to get the vaccine because I still got it anyways.’ Again, it’s not about not getting the disease, it’s about taking the deadly disease and making it a more benign disease,” Wu said. “Vaccines are not only for us, the vaccine is hopefully to help us prevent transmission to others as well, and that is the whole point of vaccination; we need to stop transmission.”
Kumar said a federal mandate for vaccinations is the right thing to do.
“I hope it actually increases the vaccination rate across the country,” Kumar said. “It’s difficult to understand sometimes the psychology of individuals who are vaccine deniers or vaccine hesitant; they may just dig in a little bit more at this time. But at the same time, I think where we are in terms of mandate, in terms of widespread utilization of vaccination from a healthcare standpoint, from the public policy standpoint to improve the health of our community, it’s the right thing to do, so I’m hoping this is going to be seen as a positive and something that’s going to make our society much safer as we go forward.”
Kumar said Hartford HealthCare is very well positioned for covid testing, vaccinations and boosters. Kumar said their website will be updated informing the public about how the boosters can be sought once they learn more from CDC and CIAP.
“As of now you can only get the booster of the same vaccine that you had received before,” Wu added.