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Doctor on COVID-19 vaccination: ‘Too little too late, better late than never, if anything it all counts’

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Dr. Calvin Sun,The Monsoon Diaries Founder & CEO, Clinical Assistant Professor and Attending Physician in Emergency Medicine in NYC, joins Yahoo Finance to discuss the latest on the coronavirus pandemic.

Video Transcript

ALEXIS CHRISOTOFOROUS: I want to continue this conversation now and bring in Dr. Calvin Sun, founder and CEO of the Monsoon Diaries and clinical assistant, professor, and attending physician in emergency medicine in New York City. Dr. Sun, always good to see you. We received news today that municipal workers in New York City and now in California will be mandated to show either proof of vaccine or get tested for COVID weekly. Is it your belief that we're going to see more municipalities do this and follow suit?

CALVIN SUN: I think there has been an ethical mandate that's been going on for the last year because I can't feel comfortable doing my job and not risk bringing it home to my family or my other patients unless I get vaccinated. So if anything, the mandate has really been all of us in terms of an ethical thing. I swore an oath to do no harm to my patients. And being vaccinated myself is a way of swearing to that, continuing to swear by that oath.

I think if you going to sign up for a service to help other people, client facing or people facing, in service to the public, that is an ethical mandate. If people are not willing to sign up for it, they are endangering not only themselves, but their families that they could bring the virus home, carrying with themselves to other loved ones.

It's kind of like having a driver, you know, mandating your people and your passengers wear their seatbelts if there are family members sitting in the back. So I think that, unfortunately, people are not subscribing to that ethical mandate. There will be people who are paying much more than I am that will enforce it in a legal sense.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Why is this not too little too late? Shouldn't we have had these kind of mandates months ago?

CALVIN SUN: It's the too little too late versus better late than never. And I honestly feel that every little bit counts. Sometimes people take a long time to get to a point where they finally can own a decision. There are people who buy the first iPhone when it first comes out and then people who wait it out after-- wait for 2.0, 3.0. And everyone's different. I never tell people what to do if they're not ready for it. Otherwise, they might resent us in case a bad outcome happens.

If millions and millions of people are getting something like a vaccine, one out of a million, two million by chance will have a bad outcome, they might resent you and blame it and do more harm than good. So I tend to be more the, I guide you to that place where you then own the decision, and you come on getting it yourself.

This past week, we had a lot of anti-vaxxers come to the emergency room secretly. And the closeted-- patient privacy is a [INAUDIBLE] thing. They ended up getting it. Too little too late, better late than never. If anything, it all accounts. Patient privacy, they don't have to tell their friends. They can save face, maintain their pride. I think we're seeing a lot of that right now with the Delta variant making that impact on the people who haven't gotten vaccinated yet.

ALEXIS CHRISOTOFOROUS: You know, doc, that's an interesting anecdote that you share with us that people-- sort of, you're calling them the closeted anti-vaxxers-- now wanting the vaccine. But I want to talk to you about schools reopening in just a few short weeks, as this Delta variant continues to rage throughout the country now. It doesn't seem like kids under 12 are going to be able to get that vaccine in time for the new school year. Do you think that the prudent thing to do would be to mandate that children and all those in school wear masks when schools reopen if they're going to be bent on having in-person schooling?

CALVIN SUN: Yeah, we've seen a lot of pandemics this past year, a virus, pride, entitlement, misinformation, the reluctance to-- the balance between helping yourself versus helping your community. And when it comes to kids, it's a very tricky decision. It's not about what you do, but how you do it. If you're going to force it on people, and they're not ready, and the kids are not ready, the parents are not ready, or the guardians or people taking care of these kids are not ready, you may have a backlash, where you will have schools that will open up that will take unvaccinated or with families.

And it's about messaging and getting them to a place, guiding them to see why they need to own the decision of getting vaccinated. Just like seeing somebody get injured in a car accident, even if they're wearing a seatbelt, doesn't make me not want to wear a seatbelt when it's my turn to get in that car or seeing a bike accident happen when they're wearing a helmet and still get injured. I'm still going to wear that helmet.

If you conveyed in this kind of information and getting them to the place, seeing other people get sick or unvaccinated versus the people who get sick and are vaccinated are doing fine-- 99.2% of people who have died in the last two to three months are unvaccinated. It's not 100%. It's not 0%. Nothing's like that. But it's 99.2% is an indication that why not take that information and try to apply it to the safety of your family?

And if you present it this way, and then you get them to buy in, then we may have obviated a mandate. But in this case scenario, when you want to protect other people, I think we have no choice but to get to that point.

ALEXIS CHRISOTOFOROUS: Mm-hmm. Lots of challenges for sure in the reopening of our schools. Dr. Calvin Sun, thanks so much.