'Compassion fatigue': Mpumalanga doctor refuses to see unvaccinated patients

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A doctor from Mbombela in Mpumalanga says he will no longer see unvaccinated patients.
A doctor from Mbombela in Mpumalanga says he will no longer see unvaccinated patients.
  • A Mpumalanga doctor says he will no longer be seeing unvaccinated patients after losing people to Covid-19.
  • Dr Tafara Machiri has put a notice outside his practice advising patients to choose another physician if they refuse to get the vaccine. 
  • He says, since putting up the notice, patients have been engaging with him about vaccines. 

A specialist physician from Mbombela in Mpumalanga says he is tired of losing people to Covid-19 and has decided that he will no longer be seeing unvaccinated patients at his practice.

Speaking on Cape Talk's Morning Review with Lester Kiewit on Tuesday, Dr Tafara Machiri said "compassion fatigue" had led to his decision.

A note outside Machiri's practice says that he will "not be seeing patients who are not vaccinated against Covid-19".

The note also reads that while he would not be forcing people to taking the vaccine, he will also not allow them to continue dying from an "illness that is preventable." 

"Your files will be transferred to a physician of your choice," the notice, which took effect from 1 September 2021, reads.

Speaking to Cape Talk, Machiri said: 

It's compassion fatigue. I will be honest with you; every time I get called up [at] 01:00, 02:00 to see a patient, they are very ill and I need to make a decision whether to send them to high care or incubate them immediately.

Machiri said, because of this, he had started asking patients about their vaccination statuses, although he shouldn't be.

"Most of the time I take a step back immediately after asking that question, and apologise to the patient. Because it is really a moral judgement on someone who is desperately sick. And I am not someone who is morally qualified to ask that kind of question to someone who is desperately sick and needs my help." 

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Machiri said his "no vaccination, no consultation" decision was based on the fact that a lot of unvaccinated people were coming in hospitals with severe symptoms, straining doctors and healthcare workers. 

He said, by putting out the notice, he was trying to raise awareness in the community he served, and advising them that vaccines saved lives, without forcing them to have them. 

Machiri said he had received no valid reasons why the vaccine was not being taken from the people he had asked.

The specialist physician said he had lost people in their late 50s to the virus. If they had vaccinated, they could have been alive today, he said.

He added that he knew about 71 people aged 50 and above who refused to take the vaccine. 

ALSO READ | Ramaphosa says employees may refuse vaccination on medical and constitutional grounds

After putting up the notice, about 41 of them had engaged with him and had at least had their first dose now.

"They started re-engaging me, trying to go through with me all the reasons that they were delaying the vaccinations. Trying to go with me all the reasons why they didn't want to take the vaccines.

"All of them were not making sense. So, 43, so far, out of 71, have taken at least one dose of the vaccine, which I think is extremely useful," said Machiri.

If you come across Covid-19 vaccination information that you do not trust, read Covid-19 vaccine myths debunked: Get the facts here. If you can't find the facts you're looking for, email us at the address mentioned in the article and we will verify the information with medical professionals.
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