Dr. Megan Ranney on COVID-19 cases rising in areas with low vaccination rates



Coronavirus

“Anybody who is getting infected right now, almost universally, is someone who could have gotten vaccinated.”

Dr. Megan Ranney is not happy to see COVID-19 cases rising in areas with low vaccination rates. 

The emergency room physician and director of the Brown Lifespan Center for Digital Health shared her reaction Monday during an appearance on CNN and discussed ongoing hesitancy among some populations to get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

“It feels like a rerun of a really bad show that I didn’t like the first time and I like it even less the second,” Ranney said of seeing cases rise in areas with low vaccination rates. “So anybody who is getting infected right now, almost universally, is someone who could have gotten vaccinated, who didn’t have to be sick, who didn’t have to be hospitalized, who didn’t have to die. It is so disappointing to watch us going through another surge when we have the option for it to be a different way.”

Nearly all the coronavirus deaths in the United States are among people who were not vaccinated against the virus. About 250 deaths are being reported daily, according to the New York Times. But an uptick in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths is occurring due to localized outbreaks in areas with low vaccination rates as the more contagious Delta variant gains ground. 

Parts of Arkansas, Missouri, Texas and Nevada in particular are struggling with new COVID-19 cases due to the variant spreading, according to the Times’ COVID-19 tracker. 

Ranney stressed in her appearance on CNN that if you don’t want to get vaccinated, can’t get vaccinated, or are an individual for whom the vaccine may not work as well due to a condition, such as being immunocompromised, wearing a mask still protects against COVID-19 and variants of the virus. 

The doctor suggested there are several elements behind the continued hesitancy in some communities to get vaccinated. 

“There are certainly folks out there who are trying to score political points, who see being anti-vaccine as a way to get followers and to gain attention,” she said. “That’s real. There are also people who have read misinformation or frank lies on social media and have come to believe them, and then it gets spread among friends and families and social groups. That’s most of what I see in the emergency department.”

Ranney said that she has spoken with patients in Rhode Island who described lies and misinformation about the vaccines, but she has found that direct conversations with those individuals about the facts has prompted a change in thinking. 

“I think it’s that combination,” she said of hesitancy. “Politics plus some folks who just unfortunately have been a little hoodwinked or haven’t had enough time to learn the efficacy and the safety of these shots.”

The Rhode Island emergency room doctor isn’t the only public health official sounding the alarm about the ongoing politicization of vaccines and the impact on trust in the inoculations.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top U.S. infectious disease specialist, decried “ideological rigidity” over the weekend as preventing individuals from getting vaccinated.

Fauci’s statements came after images surfaced of an audience cheering vaccine opposition at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas. The infectious disease expert called the moment “horrifying.”