'Help us: get vaccinated', plead French ICU staff

A wave of COVID-19 admissions, particularly of unvaccinated patients, has hit the Colmar Hospital in eastern France.

And they're trying to cope with a much-depleted staff - many are on sick leave or have quit, lured by less gruelling jobs in private clinics.

Morale is low among those who remain.

Doctor Ruxandra Divan, an intensive care anaesthetist, says she's exhausted.

"We're really tired, we want to call on people who are listening to us to get vaccinated, to help us, to help themselves, to help others, to help the patients here, who are immuno-compromised, who got vaccinated, who respected all the rules. Now, they're in intensive care because they were infected elsewhere. I think we really have to think not just about ourselves, but about others, too."

On the intensive care ward, all 13 beds are now occupied by COVID-19 patients. Of these, 11 are unvaccinated. They have been intubated and are being ventilated.

This is Elisabeth Gaertner, head of intensive care at Colmar public hospitals.

"The patients who are hospitalized with severe forms of COVID are currently young patients, and almost all of them have not been vaccinated."

Healthcare systems across Europe are facing rising infection rates and admissions, along with the added uncertainty of how the new Omicron variant will affect public health.

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