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South Georgia Medical Center helps debunk vaccine hesitancy

Two experts weigh-in to dispel misinformation
Posted at 6:17 PM, Aug 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-03 07:54:25-04

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) — With so much misinformation about vaccines, one Georgia health care leader wants to make sure people have the facts.

South Georgia Medical Center is planning to educate people...one shot at a time.

As COVID-19 hospitalizations climb, understanding hesitancy may shed light on getting more people vaccinated.

"You can go online and find any reason the vaccine causes something like birth defects and so on and it's just ridiculous," said psychiatrist, Dr. Joe Morgan, with South Georgia Medical Center had to say.

Two groups of people: Irrational and rational, is how Dr. Morgan describes individuals who don't want the vaccine.

Whether it be distrust, fear, or denial, he says it's important to find out where someone is coming from to encourage his patients to get the shot.

He added, "if you can't do it from a rational point of view then maybe you can approach it from an emotional point of view, how would this affect your spouse, and some people aren't as afraid of death as they are a permanent affliction, talk about people who aren't able to smell or taste for the rest of their life."

Dr. Brian Pisula, an emergency room doctor at SGMC, says he asks his patients what concerns they have for not getting vaccinated.

"They'll usually say something along the lines of, 'I just don't want it, I heard it's bad for me, I think it's experimental,'" Dr. Pisula said.

This is when Dr. Pisula goes over the facts and figures, addressing each concern with education.

He tells his patients "the side effects that you get are very similar to other vaccines that we routinely take on a regular basis."

Both doctors agree there is no sense in dying from something that can be prevented.

Dr. Pisula said "without dramatizing this at all, twice today already, I've had people rushed in from the triage area oxygen numbers in the '40s gasping for air and I've not seen that in a vaccinated person, not even once."

On Friday, South Georgia Medical Center will start giving vaccinations to their patients. They will have a vaccination drive-thru event at their Smith-Northview Campus on Saturday, August 7, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering