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Cornelius News

Novant doctor: Vaccine hesitancy allows new COVID variants to appear

A doctor gets the vaccine. Photo: Novant Health

Aug. 13. The new COVID-19 surge caused by the delta variant is changing the still-new coronavirus landscape. Previously, the average hospitalized patient was in their 60s. Now that a lot of higher-risk populations have been vaccinated, the average age of the hospitalized patient at Novant Health has come down from 61 to 45.

“It’s largely unvaccinated people who are getting ill,” said Dr. Charles Bregier, Novant Health’s medical director of corporate health.

Dr. Charles Bregier

A proponent of vaccines, he said COVID-19 is now thought to be about as contagious as chickenpox.

“Infection rates are way up; hospitalization rates are way up, largely because the Delta variant is extremely contagious,” Bregier said.


Patient volume is rising fast.

“At the peak back in January, we had about 600 patients in our hospitals across our footprint. A month or so ago, it was down to 20 or 30 patients. About a week ago, it was up to 145. And a day or two ago, it was at 180 patients,” he said.

Statewide, more than 2,400 people are hospitalized due to the coronavirus, up from 469 on July 13, according to the NC Dept. of Health & Human Services.

Difference in viral load

COVID is mutating faster because of unvaccinated people, Bregier said. “This delta variant seems to produce huge amounts of the virus in unvaccinated people.”

Novant Health, Atrium Health and the Mayor Clinic recently mandated that all employees be vaccinated. The Infectious Disease Society of America, the North Carolina Health Care Association and many other leading organizations have come out and broadly stated that all health care workers need to be vaccinated.

CDC advises pregnant women get vaccinated

The Centers for Disease Control this week said pregnant women and breastfeeding women should also be vaccinated. With only 23 percent of pregnant women in the US receiving one dose of the vaccine, physicians are seeing an increase in infected patients which puts themselves and their unborn baby at risk for serious complications.


“From an ethical perspective, it is more compelling for us to protect each other and protect our patients than it is to say, “I have the right to refuse the vaccine,” Bregier said.