'Believe the science:' KU doctors talk about importance of COVID-19 vaccination, masks

Dr. Steve Stites
Posted at 11:18 AM, Aug 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-19 13:29:39-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Dr. Steven Stites, chief medical officer at the University of Kansas Health System, has a message for Kansas Citians: "Give us a break. Quit believing the baloney and believe the science."

During the University of Kansas Health System Morning Medical Update, Stites said that doctors just want the public to take care of themselves, and they have no motivation to not tell the truth about the vaccine and wearing a mask.

"Your hospitals are completely full in Kansas City," Stites said. "We looked at the transfer-center numbers and transfer-center requests. We're going to set a record this month. We're going to hit about 3,000. That is 100 transfer requests a day."

Not all of those requests are for COVID-19 cases, but Stites said the KU Health System is taking less than a one-third requested transfers at this time.

"We're overwhelmed," Stites said. "Our teams are tired; I'm tired. ...You're tired? Frickin' folks, we're exhausted here."

Speaking about the efficacy of masks, Stites spoke on his personal experiences that show masks work.

"Our employees don't get sick, and that's because they have masks on," Stites said. "So, OK, masking works. So, let's drop the idea that masking doesn't work. ... It's just so bogus."

Stites also wanted people to recognize that COVID-19 vaccines work, adding that he is seeing vaccine hesitancy begin to break.

Only four of the more than 400 deaths due to COVID-19 were vaccinated individuals, less than 1% of deaths, and Stites said all four of those people had pre-existing conditions.

"Trust the science, and we're are doing our very best to try and take care of you," Stites said. "We're not trying to create some conspiracy or paranoia here, we're just trying to tell you the truth."

However, Stites is concerned about people who are immunocompromised catching the delta variant.

"There is a concern about if you're really chronically, critically ill," Stites said. "If that's the case, you still need to keep your mask on, and you may need another shot."

Dr. Mario Castro, a researcher from the University of Kansas School of Medicine, said that immunocompromised individuals are receiving a third shot, not a booster, because it is less than eight months after their last shot.

Castro also recommends that immunocompromised people who get a third shot stay with the same manufacturer.

The health system currently has 90 COVID-19 patients, including 57 with active infections. Of those 57 patients, 21 are in the ICU and 14 of them are on ventilators.

Stites said 20% of KU's COVID-19 patients are vaccinated, but the average age of those patients is 67. That is 14 years older than the average age of KU's unvaccinated patients, which is 53.

Although some of the COVID-19 case numbers in the Kansas City area suggest a flattening of the curve, Stites said that children going back to school and large public gatherings, like the Garth Brooks concert, could cause another spike in cases.

Watch the full Morning Medical Update here: