Doctors say many ICU patients with COVID regret not getting vaccine

Doctors working in intensive care units around Northern California say they've noticed a recurring theme among many of their COVID patients.

"We are hearing so many people filled with regret at not getting the vaccine. Many of them are even asking for the vaccine on arrival. They're feeling so sick," said Dr. Vanessa Walker with Sutter Roseville Medical Center.

But by then, Walker says it's too late to get vaccinated.

She was one of two ICU doctors from Sutter Health Thursday to share their recent experiences treating COVID patients.

Doctors say while breakthrough infections happen among vaccinated patients, there is a difference in the severity of the illnesses between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated.

SEE ALSO: LAUSD now requiring all eligible students be vaccinated against COVID-19

"The ones who are unvaccinated tend to be more severely ill," said Dr. Tom Shaughnessy of the Sutter Mills-Peninsula Medical Center.

According to California Public Health records, as of last week, Bay Area ICUs ranged from Marin County's 53 percent capacity to Napa County's high of 96 percent. The rest fell well in between.

"It's been a lot more difficult and challenging to take care of these families, not just from a medical standpoint but from an emotional standpoint it is taking on our staff," said Walker.

But some Bay Area ICUs are accepting COVID patients from the Central Valley where hospitals there have been overrun at times.

Keep up with the news by downloading KTVU's news app and subscribing to our newsletter

The doctors say the delta variant is the reason for the surge in cases and the biggest difference between most new COVID patients and the ones in the first few waves is their age.

"Last year we would rarely see someone in their 40s or 30s in the intensive care unit. Now it is a common occurrence," Walker said. Adding, "It's really challenging to see these patients with young families at home face timing with their children while they are struggling to breathe."