From his Kansas City hospital bed, 42-year-old Ben Anderson, of Cameron, Missouri, had a message for those who, like him, have for whatever reason not yet gotten the COVID-19 vaccine: “These nurses, doctors, are overwhelmed. They are doing the best they can but the emergency rooms are so busy with COVID patients they can’t even stop to clean up the vomit from one patient before they get a code blue and have to run because someone is dying. They are not showing us that on the nightly news. People don’t get it. This is not the sniffles.”
It wasn’t that Anderson was particularly opposed to getting vaccinated. “I wasn’t vaccinated because work was busy,” the software product manager said during an interview in Research Medical Center, where 95% of COVID patients in intensive care unit beds are also unvaccinated. Anderson took frequent breaths, as air seeped through the hole in his neck where a tracheostomy tube had been. “I just never had time.”
Six weeks ago, Anderson lay in an intensive care unit, unconscious and on a ventilator. An end-of-life team at the hospital called his wife Tammy Anderson to discuss removing him from the breathing machine he’d relied on for more than 20 days.