SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — The majority of Californians stepped into 2022 fully vaccinated against COVID, with the highest vaccination rates springing out of progressive cities like San Francisco.

Millions of individuals built a collective force field of immunity through shots and boosters.

But there are still swaths in California of populations that remain unvaccinated and have no plans of ever getting a COVID shot. Opposition to vaccines hardened as the pandemic dragged on, health experts said.

One tough hurdle medical professional are facing right now is convincing skeptical, stubborn, or fearful unvaccinated patients that vaccines are safe and essential for protecting public health.

Doctor Taylor Nichols works in emergency rooms for hospitals in the Bay Area and Sacramento.

Nichols said misinformation swirling around the Internet makes his conversations with vaccine-hesitant patients frustrating and difficult.

He said, “We ask all of our patients if they have been vaccinated. I’ll ask them, ‘why not?’ I hear a lot of people repeat back to me misinformation (like) ‘it’s just like the flu,’ and, ‘the virus is not that severe.'”

“The people I’m talking to now are largely committed to not being vaccinated. It’s like part of their identity. That’s really hard to break through,” Nichols said.

 “It is so hard to break through all the noise these days,” Nichols said.

Nichols said most patients weighed out benefits and risks before making their personal choice. But misinformation tips the scale in the wrong direction.

The omicron variant became predominant in the United States by late December.

“Despite omicron seeing the highest reported numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations during the pandemic, disease severity indicators, including length of stay, ICU admission, and death, were lower than during previous pandemic peaks,” the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wrote.

As hospitalizations and death rates dropped, the threat of serious illness from COVID seemed to be fading.

“But that is not true for people who have not been vaccinated. People with no immunity are still facing a significant threat. Those people include children under five,” Nichols said.

The population that remains unvaccinated is also at the greatest risk of severe illness and death from a COVID infection, according to the CDC.

“You could still end up on a ventilator,” Nichols said.

From December 20 -26, unvaccinated people were 17.8 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than fully vaccinated people, the California Department of Public Health reported.

According to a national survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, the two most common reasons why unvaccinated adults opted against getting shots were: 1. They were concerned about possible side effects from the vaccine. 2. They “don’t trust the COVID-19 vaccine.” 

“Accurate vaccine information is critical and can help stop common myths and rumors. It can be difficult to know which sources of information you can trust,” the CDC wrote.

The CDC published “myths-busters and facts about COVID” to help education the public with its most recent research findings.

COVID numbers released by the California Department of Public Health Tuesday:

Vaccinations

·         68,720,989 total vaccines administered.

·         81.5% of the eligible population (5+) has been vaccinated with at least one dose.

·         127,453 people a day are receiving COVID-19 vaccination (average daily dose count over 7 days).

Cases

·         Today’s average case count is 95,014 (average daily case count over 7 days).

Hospitalizations

·         There are 15,248 hospitalizations statewide.

·         There are 2,600 ICU patients statewide.

·         Unvaccinated people were 6.0 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 (data from December 27, 2021 to January 2, 2022).

Deaths

·         There have been 78,118 COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

·         COVID-19 claims the lives of 49 Californians each day (average daily death count over 7 days).

·         Unvaccinated people were 17.8 times more likely to die from COVID-19 (data from December 20, 2021 to December 26, 2021).