JOPLIN, MO – Freeman Health System’s president and CEO says she won’t back down from encouraging people to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Despite several negative calls, emails, and anonymous letters telling her to back off, Paula Baker insists the COVID-19 vaccine is the best tool right now to fight this virus.

She has doubled-down saying the goal is to always protect people in the community.

Almost 60 people with COVID-19 are currently at Freeman Health System, 11 are in the COVID ICU, while 8 are on ventilators.

More than 90% of those admitted, in COVID ICU or the regular COVID unit, are unvaccinated.

And more than half of all COVID-19 patients at Freeman health System are under 60 years old.

“But we have had very young and otherwise healthy individuals contract COVID and end up on a ventilator and some of them have even died, so these are very, very, serious issues.” Says Paula Baker, Freeman Health System President & CEO.

“If you’re admitted to Freeman now with COVID, there’s a 1 in 5 chance you will pass away.” Says Dr. Rob McNab, Freeman Covid-19 Services.

“Sadly, we have had 15 deaths in just the last week with unvaccinated patients, and 24 in the last 15 days, so this is definitely an issue we need to take very seriously.” Baker says.

Dr. McNab adds another common denominator among those patients admitted, they’re overweight.

So, he also stressed the importance of overall health.

Hand-washing, masks, and social distancing are also highly recommended.