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Canyon County doctor's plea for more vaccinations: 'It is about keeping families from being torn apart'

West Valley Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. Richard Augustus says the rate of COVID-19 deaths is exploding among his unvaccinated patients.

CALDWELL, Idaho — Dr. Richard Augustus has seen enough preventable death. He has watched enough families struggle to say goodbye to someone they love. 

Augustus - West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell's chief medical officer - has joined the hordes of doctors across Idaho recommending, urging, and outright begging more people to get vaccinated against Covid-19 as the virus rips through the population, drowning local healthcare facilities' ability to care for all the sick and dying.

In the last month, he wrote Monday in a Facebook post that has since been shared hundreds of times, West Valley Medical Center has had six times more people die from COVID-19 than the death rate from all causes combined before the pandemic. Some of them are only in their 20's and 30's. More than 90% are unvaccinated, Augustus said. 

"Unlike one year ago we have a vaccine that works. And while it is not perfect, it does vastly reduce your risk of hospitalization and death. Think of it like a seatbelt, it’s not going to prevent the accident, but it will probably save your life," he wrote. "I understand that some people feel the risk of the vaccine is greater than the risk of getting Covid-19. This vaccine has been tested more than nearly any other vaccine and every credible study has shown it to be safe. I have been a physician for a long time and I’ve never found myself pleading with people like I do now, because I strongly believe the risk of being unvaccinated is too great."

Augustus wrote that he was seeing the devastation from the front lines of the battle against the pandemic, and urged Canyon County residents not to be swayed by misinformation.

"I am not a politician or anyone’s puppet," he wrote. "I shop at the same stores as you, my kids went to school with yours, and I may have treated you or your family in the past. I am asking, even begging, you to get vaccinated against Covid-19."

West Valley Medical Center has expanded the number of ventilators and the capacity of their emergency rooms and ICU. Even with the increase, however, they continue to reach capacity limits.

Because of that, Augustus says, some nurses are working six days a week and doctors are working more than they regularly would.

In an interview with KTVB, the doctor said he made the post because he wanted to give his community insight into what was happening inside the hospital walls. In addition to getting the vaccine and wearing a mask in group settings, Augustus said, he urged people to talk to their doctors and get updated information from the CDC in order to be educated about the risk.

“I really wanted to share with people really how we see what is happening," he said. "We want to avoid politics and avoid perceptions and just tell people what is going on and ask for help.”

To read Augustus' full post, click here. 

At KTVB, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: www.ktvb.com/coronavirus.

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