This Kansas City cardiologist is battling a ‘pandemic of misinformation’ about COVID vaccines

This Kansas City cardiologist is battling a ‘pandemic of misinformation’ about COVID vaccines
A hospital worker in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, Wikimedia Commons

Missouri is among the deep red states that is suffering a high COVID-19 infection rate combined with a low vaccination rate. One of the things that is making COVID-19 especially dangerous in Missouri, Kansas City-based cardiologist Sanjaya K. Gupta warns in a Kansas City Star op-ed, is a "pandemic of misinformation."

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 75% of U.S.-based adults have been at least partially vaccinated for COVID-19. But in Missouri, according to the Mayo Clinic, that number is only 54% — which is 21% below the national average.

In his Star op-ed, Dr. Sanjaya Gupta — not to be confused with CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta — explains, "I have received daily messages from patients requesting a medical exemption to allow them to avoid COVID-19 vaccination mandates for workplaces or public venues. The requests follow a common theme: Patients are concerned about taking the COVID vaccine because they don't trust it — it was rushed out too fast; there are no long-term data on safety; they suspect side effects are being underreported."

Gupta continues, "As a cardiologist, I know that my patients are at high risk of complications should they contract COVID; so, I politely but firmly ask them to consider taking the vaccine. I reassure them that the vaccine is safe and that the risks of the vaccine pale in comparison to the risks of COVID."

Gupta, who practices cardiology at Saint Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, goes on to say that the vaccine-resistant patients he is talking to are getting their "misinformation" from unreliable sources online.

"Lately, I have found myself calling up my anti-vax patients and discussing their concerns," Gupta explains. "I started by just listening, and what I learned surprised me. They are not conspiracy theorists who think microchips are hidden in the vaccine, or that drug companies are secretly plotting with the Chinese government. In my experience, these characteristics define the vaccine-resistant: First, they are fairly intelligent and have read a lot of information, usually online, about various COVID-19 treatments. Second, they tend to get their news through alternative sources of information."

Gupta stresses that Americans who are hoping to see the pandemic end sooner rather than later need to get vaccinated for COVID-19.

"Fundamentally, we understand that the pandemic will end once the virus has run out of new hosts to infect," Gupta notes. "This will occur when everyone is vaccinated or until COVID-19 has infected all remaining unvaccinated people and those that survive will be immune. The latter option will cost more lives, take more time and exert a tremendous impact on our society and economy."

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