Home / Lee Health CEO pushes back against vaccine misinformation, says ‘Let me show you the ICU’

Lee Health CEO pushes back against vaccine misinformation, says ‘Let me show you the ICU’

Reporter: Sydney Persing
Published: Updated:

A top leader in health care in our community says he’s battling COVID-19 both in the ICU and online.

About 50% of Floridian’s total population is vaccinated, and in Lee County, it’s slightly less.

“I rack my brain daily; what am I missing?” laments Dr. Larry Antonucci, president and CEO of Lee Health.

Antonucci said misinformation about the vaccines is showing up on his own Twitter feed.

Dr. Jordan Taillon is a pulmonologist and critical care specialist. He says that before COVID-19 patients in the ICU close their eyes to die, “You’re starting to hear people reflect on this, that they didn’t think they could be in this position.”

Every morning, Antonucci opens his phone to read how many more Southwest Floridians are in his hospitals. “And every day, I wake up with the hope that it’s gonna be less than the day before, and I haven’t had that yet.”

Antonucci also says he reads lots and lots of misinformation.

People claiming that the vaccines don’t work; people claiming certain treatments do work – treatments doctors say actually do not help at all.

So when Antonucci closes his eyes at the end of the day, he wonders, “Why is it that only 51% of our population has been vaccinated in Florida and even lower in Lee County?”

Antonucci dedicated part of his weekly news conference Tuesday to discussing one particular tweet; “Someone posted something on my Twitter account about vaccines, that that’s how they track you… You see that stuff out there, you just want to take people like that and say, ‘Come with me to the ICU, let me show you what you’re talking about.’ We can’t do that, of course.”

Taillon added, “Once they realize it’s time to go on the ventilator, they’re saying, ‘Is there anything else you can do?’ and the answer, really, is no.”