Here's why the site has been so vaccine-centric the past few weeks.

COVID-19 Vaccine

Regular readers have no doubt noticed that something like 80% of the new posts here at ACA Signups over the past 2-3 weeks have been obsessively tracking COVID-19 vaccination rates via various metrics (partisanship, income, geographic region, education level, etc). While COVID and the vaccination program are obviously heavily healthcare policy-related, they're also obviously not right at the core of what this site is normally about.

This week I'm finally easing off on the vaccination tracking stuff (I'll only be posting about them here weekly going forward--on Wednesdays--with rare exceptions), I wanted to explain why I've been so obsessive about this. A Twitter thread by nurse Julia Pulver (an old friend of mine here in Michigan) explains it better than I could. I've converted her thread into a more blog-friendly format with her permission:

One of the most traumatic experiences I ever had in an ICU was performing end of life care for a 34yr mother of 3. She had advanced breast cancer & there was nothing more that could be done-she was in multi-system organ failure.

The kicker? It was caught early & could have been easily treated with chemo & radiation. But she "did her own research" & was in a social circle that assured her that she didn't need all that. She could cure her cancer with tomato juice, magnets & exercise.

Her husband begged her to get real cancer treatment but she assured him she was getting advice from some very smart people on the internet and had read so many success stories that she was convinced chemo & radiation were all a scam & did more harm to cancer patients than good. She took internet quackery as gospel. She completely rejected medical tx

Until less than a year later, she was in my ICU in multisystem organ failure & I was left to care for her in her dying days. Her husband & young children (3-6yrs) had to say their last goodbyes to an unconscious, intubated shell of their former wife & mama. It really shook me...

How could someone with so much to lose trust everything to some snake oil salesmen on the internet rather than their own doctors? How could I be expected to care for someone as they tragically die KNOWING they could have prevented so much heartache & turmoil if only they'd had enough humility to admit that there were limitations to their knowledge of advanced disease & trusted the evidence based best practices? Watching that young mom die needlessly was traumatic. So was watching her husband & kids try to make peace with it.

This experience added to my thought process of leaving the bedside to pursue other avenues of nursing. Which I did & gladly so.

I tell you this as a warning. Well trained, experienced ICU nurses are not made of stone. We are seeing a mass exodus by nurses who just can't take it anymore. That will get worse if conditions don't improve. ICU nurses have already been through Hell, they won't keep going back, especially for pts who CHOOSE to keep traumatizing them with preventable deaths. Nurses are tired & burned out. They will just keep quietly quitting to save their own sanity.

Again, I promise to shift back to my normal content going forward, but I want to reiterate yet again: If you haven't gotten vaccinated against COVID-19 yet, please do so as soon as possible.

If you've gotten your first shot, make sure to get the second one when you're supposed to do so (3 weeks later for Pfizer, 4 weeks later for Moderna). And keep masking up in public whether you're vaccinated or not in order to help protect those who are immunocompromised and for kids under 12 years old who can't take the vaccine (or at least not yet, for children) until we finally get out of this nightmare.