Who is Jason Valentine? Alabama doc says NO to unvaxxed patients: 'I cannot watch them suffer'
Doc wants to stop seeing unvaxxed patients from October 1, says 'Covid is a miserable way to die' as Alabama faces massive surge in cases
As the deadly Delta variant has caused a surge in Covid-19 cases, states are finding it increasingly hard to promote vaccinations. Thanks to misinformation, and deliberate attempts by some Republicans, many Americans are turning down vaccines, even though there are readily available. One doctor in Alabama, Jason Valentine, appears to have had enough and has controversially decided not to see any more unvaccinated patients from October 1 onward.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott was the latest high-profile person to be diagnosed with Covid-19 but is still staunchly behind banning mask mandates. The Texas Supreme Court also recently sided with Abbott on the issue, as schools gear up to receive children. Adding to the woes, several high-profile names have also publicly espoused concern over the vaccines, like Arizona Cardinals star DeAndre Hopkins.
Between the pushback against mask mandates, and misinformation about the Covid-19 vaccine, the US is seeing some of its worst numbers in the pandemic. Alabama is now out of ICU beds and Florida and Texas could face a similar challenge in the weeks to come. That's why some people are choosing to act, enforcing vaccination or mask mandates despite GOP opposition. Valentine has gone a step further, effectively banning unvaxxed patients from his clinic.
Who is Jason Valentine?
The mobile, Alabama-based doctor works at Diagnostic and Medical Clinic Infirmary Health, one of the largest private clinics in Alabama. The physician has been working at the clinic since 2008 and is a graduate of the University of South Alabama. After graduating med school in 2001, Valentine completed his residency in 2004 from St Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, in Pheonix. He reportedly has an office in Saraland.
According to one website, Valentine has a license to practice medicine in Alabama, Georgia, and Arizona. The Georgia state license expired in 2007, but the other two are still active. Little else is known about Valentine since he doesn't appear in the news beyond his controversial decision.
The doctor reportedly put up the notice on his office doors on August 16, followed by a Facebook post defending his decision. "Effective Oct. 1, 2021, Dr Valentine will no longer see patients that are not vaccinated against COVID-19," the notice said. The Facebook post appears to have since been deleted, with embeds and links showing "the post is no longer available". He has, however, provided some details on the controversial decision in a series of Facebook posts.
'I can’t watch them die like that'
Following his Facebook post, AL.com reported that Valentine defended his decision with an emotional appeal. "If they asked why, I told them COVID is a miserable way to die and I can’t watch them die like that," he reportedly wrote. However, it appeared to have the desired effect. Valentine noted that since the notice was put up, three patients asked him where they could get their shots. "No conspiracy theories, no excuses. Just where do they go," he said.
He didn't however, stop there. Valentine also mailed out letters to all his patients about the need to get their vaccines. "We do not yet have any great treatments for severe disease, but we do have great prevention with vaccines. Unfortunately, many have declined to take the vaccine, and some end up severely ill or dead. I cannot and will not force anyone to take the vaccine, but I also cannot continue to watch my patients suffer and die from an eminently preventable disease," the letter said. It added, "If you wish to keep me as your physician, documentation of your vaccination will suffice. If you wish to choose another physician, we will be happy to transfer your records."
While extreme, there appears to be a rationale behind Valentine's decision. Alabama is currently witnessing a massive surge in Covid-19 cases. As of August 18, the state had 4,465 new cases with a seven-day average of 3,782. The day before, 78,100 people were in hospital and 20,400 in intensive care. The massive numbers can solely be attributed to the state's low vaccine uptake. Only 35.7% of Alabama is fully vaccinated, while 47% has had just one dose. Those numbers make the state one of the lowest in the country when it comes to vaccinations.
The surge is so serious, the state has run out of ICU beds as of August 18. The Joe Biden administration has announced plans for booster shots, but given that a large number of Americans are yet to take their first, that plan won't mean much in the present scenario. If you haven't please get your vaccine as soon as possible. It is safe, effective, and the only way to combat the pandemic.