Delta variant: Doctor recalls anti-vaxxers visiting ER and 'secretly' getting vaccinated

·Senior Editor
·3 min read

The spread of the Delta variant seems to be convincing some vaccine skeptics to reconsider getting the COVID-19 vaccine, even if that means being inoculated in secret.

According to Dr. Calvin Sun, an NYC-based emergency medicine physician, more vaccine hesitant individuals are showing up in the emergency room.

“This past week, I had a lot of anti-vaxxers come to the emergency room secretly,” Sun said on Yahoo Finance Live (video above). “Patient privacy is a wonderful thing. They ended up getting it."

A Bloomberg analysis found that several areas of the country with relatively low vaccination rates are seeing jumps in inoculations amid the latest surge of cases.

“They don't have to tell their friends," Sun said of those now seeking vaccination after months of hesitancy. "They can save face, maintain their pride. I think we’re seeing a lot of that right now with the Delta variant making that impact on the people who haven’t gotten vaccinated yet.”

Vaccination rates slowed in the U.S. over the past few months. There are currently 60.1% of Americans over 18 who are fully vaccinated, and 69.1% who have received at least one dose.

That means that herd immunity — considered by experts to be at least 75% of any community — is still in the distance, particularly in areas where more residents are refusing to get the vaccine.

Unvaccinated individuals, meanwhile, are suffering most: According to the CDC, 99.2% of COVID-related deaths since the beginning of the year have been among unvaccinated Americans.

“I honestly feel that every little bit counts," Sun said. "Sometimes people take a long time to get to a point where they can finally own a decision. There are people who buy the first iPhone when it first comes out and there are people who wait it out after a week for 2.0, 3.0, and everyone’s different."

A man drives his car past a light flag while wearing a mask in Times Square during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., October 23, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
A man wearing a mask drives his car past a light flag in Times Square in New York City on October 23, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

'I never tell people what to do if they’re not ready'

COVID hotspots are popping up across the entire country as the Delta variant spreads.

The country’s 7-day moving average of new cases is 50,816, and hospitalizations are up 70% over the past 14 days. The numbers are even worse in certain parts of the country, including states like Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, and Louisiana. These states also happen to have vaccination rates lower than the national average.

And while some experts have responded by calling for federal action to be taken — such as national mask mandates or a vaccine passport — Sun said it would be the wrong decision.

“I tend to be more of the ‘I guide you to that place where you then own the decision and you come on getting it yourself,’” Sun said, adding: “I never tell people what to do if they’re not ready for it. Otherwise, they might resent us in case a bad outcome happens. If millions and millions of people are getting something like a vaccine, one out of a million or two million by chance will have a bad outcome, and they might resent you and blame it and do more harm than good.”

Sun favored explaining to vaccine skeptics that unvaccinated individuals made up almost the entirety of COVID-related deaths over imposing restrictions like vaccine passports, which would grant vaccinated individuals greater liberties than unvaccinated folks.

“If people are not willing to sign up or they are endangering not only themselves but their families that they could bring the virus home, carrying it with themselves to other loved ones, it’s kind of like having a driver mandating your passengers to wear their seatbelts if there are family members are sitting in the back,” Sun said. “Unfortunately, people aren’t subscribing to that ethical mandate.”

Adriana Belmonte is a reporter and editor covering politics and health care policy for Yahoo Finance. You can follow her on Twitter @adrianambells and reach her at

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