'They’re on the backs of the people who took the vaccine': Miami doctor refuses to treat unvaccinated patients

'They’re on the backs of the people who took the vaccine': Miami doctor refuses to treat unvaccinated patients
Capt. Jessica Oesch, a perioperative nurse in the Weed Army Community Hospital operating room, receives the first COVID-19 vaccine on Fort Irwin, Calif. on December 23. The hospital received a limited supply of vaccines and will vaccinate personnel in accordance with the Department of Defense's population schema. (U.S. Army photo by Kimberly Hackbarth/ Weed ACH Public Affairs) (Kimberly Hackbarth)
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A Florida doctor is making her stance clear where the COVID-19 vaccine is concerned: get vaccinated or you cannot be treated in-person at the practice.

According to the Miami Herald, Dr. Linda Marraccini sent out a mass email to the 3,000 patients she and her brother, John Marraccini treat at their practice. The email blast highlighted a notice emphasizing that "the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for regular use, lifting the emergency authorization the agency had granted the vaccine in December."

Now that the vaccine is approved for regular use, the practice also announced policy change set to go into effect on Sept. 15. In short, the practice is now enforcing a vaccine mandate. Patients have two options: begin the vaccination process by Sept. 15 or "she will end the doctor-patient relationship."

For patients who cannot find another doctor by that date, Marraccini will offer virtual consultations. Speaking to The Miami Herald, Marraccini shared more details about her perspective.

"I feel if I can't have a good doctor-patient relationship, I'm not going to be comfortable taking care of those patients and they should find someone who's a better fit for them," Marraccini told the publication.

She went on to offer her take on the unvaccinated.

"We feel that they're on the backs of the people who took the vaccine," she said. "There's no team playing. There's no team participation."

Kenneth Goodman, founder and director of the Miller School of Medicine's Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy at the University of Miami, said he believes it is good practice.

"Doctors have duties to their patients, all of them, not just to the one that's gaming the system," Goodman said. "You don't expose your patients to a potentially deadly disease."

While Marraccini has faced some backlash for her decision to enforce a vaccine mandate, she is defending her decision, insisting it is not a strategy to "punish" the unvaccinated.

"It is not to punish people," she said. "Honestly, I've spent a lot of time talking to people. I've had people who are teachers that are going to be teaching kids who are not vaccinated and they [the teachers] are not vaccinated. That's not great for our community. I have a big problem with it. ... Some of these people are very high risk themselves. They can't afford to get sick. I've had patients die because they were afraid to go to the hospital."

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