'I'm going to die, aren't I?': Sask.'s unvaccinated express regret about not getting COVID-19 jab

Treating those who are suffering from the worst effects of COVID-19 sometimes means horrifying anecdotes like the one offered by Dr. Alex Wong in Regina.

Dr. Alex Wong shares horrifying reality for those inside Saskatchewan's ICUs

Inside the ICU at Guelph General Hospital on April 27, 2021.
An infectious diseases doctor at Regina General Hospital has shared his experiences treating unvaccinated COVID-19 patients. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC)

As Saskatchewan makes its way through its fourth wave of COVID-19, health-care workers across the province are sharing their difficult experiences continuing to treat those suffering from the virus. 

Dr. Alex Wong, an infectious diseases doctor at Regina General Hospital, is one of the workers who has taken to social media to give the public a glimpse of the reality inside the province's ICUs. 

Wong said he's heard dying patients express regret about not getting a COVID-19 vaccine dose when they had a chance. 

He used an example of one man who was unvaccinated. 

"'I should have had my shots ... my wife had hers. She kept telling me to get mine. I'm going to die, aren't I?'" Wong recalled the man saying. 

The man was able to speak with his family one last time before he was taken to the ICU to be intubated, a procedure to assist someone when they are no longer able to breathe on their own. 

"He told them how sorry he was over and over again," Wong said, "and, unfortunately, three days later, he died alone."

Wong believes many of those who come into the hospital without a vaccine do so because Saskatchewan's reopening plan for the summer gave them a false sense of security.

The people felt that COVID-19 was over or, at the very least, was no longer a concern, Wong said. 

"We've seen so many people in a hospital like this, and they are so regretful."

WATCH | Dr. Alex Wong talks about an unvaccinated patient's dying regrets:

Saskatchewan COVID-19 caseload 'weeks away' from peaking, says specialist

2 years ago
Duration 8:39
Elected officials in Saskatchewan need to send a clear, strong message to residents about 'how serious this really is,' said infectious diseases specialist Dr. Alexander Wong. 'People don't see what's going on in the hospitals,' he said.

'It is so hard right now'

Wong and other health-care workers have shared their stories, hoping that they would serve as lessons for those who remain unvaccinated or who have family members who are unvaccinated. 

Vaccination remains one of the most important tools against the virus. It reduces the most serious effects of COVID-19. A vaccinated person with COVID-19 is also less likely to infect others.

But vaccination isn't the only tool available to help stop the spread, Wong said. Saskatchewan residents can wear masks indoors — as mandated by the province — but they can also avoid large gatherings.

"Honestly, some people will listen to this and just roll their eyes and think again that I'm just fear-mongering or whatever," he said. "But it is so hard right now, what it is that we're dealing with in our hospitals, in our ICUs."

Wong's plea comes as the fourth wave of COVID-19 has plunged the province into the worst stage of the pandemic so far, despite the adoption of vaccines.

Multiple COVID-19 records have been broken in the past week, including the number of new cases, number of active cases, hospitalizations, patients in the province's intensive care units and deaths.

Rising ICU numbers have resulted in the slowing down or pausing of non-critical and elective services, while Saskatchewan's organ donation program has been halted as the province's health services shift to focus on COVID-19 efforts.


  • A previous version of this story stated that being vaccinated prevents the spread of COVID-19. In fact, a vaccinated person with COVID-19 is less likely to spread it to others.
    Sep 28, 2021 9:24 AM CT


Alexander Quon is a reporter with CBC Saskatchewan based in Regina. After working in Atlantic Canada for four years he's happy to be back in his home province. He has previously worked with the CBC News investigative unit in Nova Scotia and Global News in Halifax. Alexander specializes in data-reporting, COVID-19 and municipal political coverage. He can be reached at:

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