When Dr. Naveen Reddy heard about a press conference being organized by local physicians to show their support of the COVID-19 vaccine, he agreed to attend. Like many of the other 75 Florida doctors who participated in the press conference, Reddy showed up prior to a busy workday. While many headlines inaccurately called the press conference a “walkout,” Reddy shared what really happened on social media.
“This isn’t a real ‘walkout’ in that we all went to work. One cardiologist came after doing an overnight cath and I left to do an EGD then office,” the gastroenterologist wrote in a Twitter thread. “Nobody was saying that we will not treat patients or that people who haven’t been vaccinated are bad people. We are just encouraging people to follow the science and not listen to people who just talk to make a name for themself.”
Reddy shared with TODAY that he hoped that a large group of doctors might convince some vaccine-hesitant people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“Most of the media coverage is focused on people who don’t want to get vaccinated,” the Jupiter, Florida-based doctor told TODAY. “We felt it was important for the medical community in the area to show support of vaccination and to show boots on the grounds in terms of what’s happening.”
Reddy said he has heard some anti-vaccine protesters wondering why more doctors aren’t talking about vaccine and he hoped that the well-attended press conference would provide powerful imagery showing just how much support the COVID-19 vaccines have from the medical community. More vaccinations could help reduce the strain many hospitals now face with the current COVID-19 surge.
“We’ve never really been in a situation like this before where we have this global pandemic and we have a relatively straightforward thing to reduce the burden on the healthcare system and improves patients’ lives,” he said. “Yet despite that, we’re having people speaking out so aggressively against the vaccine."
While the original media coverage referred to the conference as a walkout or characterized doctors as unwilling to treat unvaccinated patients, that’s not the case.
“It wasn’t a protest,” Reddy said. “None of the 75 doctors there or none of the physicians that I know of here are refusing to treat patients with COVID-19.”
Reddy and his colleagues felt compelled to speak up about COVID-19 because of the misinformation surrounding it, including the persistent myth that it is a hoax. He feels stunned by people who even don’t believe COVID-19 is real even when they are sick with it.
“We have patients who come into the hospital who have COVID-19 CT scans and X-rays that look awful, but the patient still refuses to believe they have COVID-19,” he said. “They say it’s all fake news or a lie.”
Reddy said he was a “background player” in the press conference, but agrees with the message and encourages people to listen to healthcare experts.
“I hope that people will pay attention to more of what the science and physicians who are actually involved in COVID-19 are saying because we have first-hand experience,” Reddy said. "COVID-19 is real, this is a significant thing that’s going on and we hope that people will take a look at the science and data.”
He said that people who have questions about vaccines can always contact their doctors to learn more.
“I definitely encourage people to speak with doctors who are actually practicing,” Reddy said. “The message is to try to encourage people to get vaccinated and to give our story, not just as physicians, but also members of the community. Multiple doctors said at the time we came there as your neighbors, people who have kids in the same class as your kids, who eat at the same restaurants not just a physicians. But as your friends.”