Arm Yourself: Dr. Huaco’s COVID-19 Story

A message from Dr. Jorge Huaco, a Bariatric Surgeon at Southcoast Health, on how to arm yourself and your loved-ones against COVID-19

A message from Dr. Jorge Huaco, a Bariatric Surgeon at Southcoast Health, on how to arm yourself and your loved-ones against COVID-19:

For the last two years, a number of my bariatric patients have suffered severe symptoms, hospitalization and even death from COVID-19, and many have also experienced the rippling effects of a pause in the process of their life-changing, weight loss surgeries. Patients who prepared diligently and met stringent criteria saw the process halt several times. For these patients, the pandemic was a disruption to an already difficult road they had to endure. 

People of all ages with underlying medical conditions, like obesity, are at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Obesity reduces the body’s ability to fight off the infection because the visceral fat causes chronic inflammation, which attracts the virus. With hospitalized patients who suffer from obesity, intubation (using a tube to open the patient’s airway for ventilation) is much more difficult. Because of the increased weight and fat in the body, the lung volume decreases, air entry is restricted and breathing is burdensome.

Vaccination is important. Not only does it protect us from experiencing severe symptoms when infected, but it also gives us a chance at achieving herd immunity. Herd immunity is reached when enough people have been vaccinated against a virus and have developed protective antibodies against future infection. The vaccine has been rigorously tested and is available to and recommended for ages 5 years and up. If anything, your body will react with very mild, tolerable symptoms, alerting you that it is building the antibodies you need to protect yourself from future infection.

You simply can not compare the risk of experiencing severe side effects of the vaccine to the risk of experiencing severe symptoms from COVID-19. As of January 26, 2022, the United States nears 870K+ deaths from COVID-19, not to mention the millions who have survived, and now face short term and long term complications.

If individuals suffering from obesity can lose even 10-20 pounds, it can make a difference in terms of adverse, COVID-19 outcomes. However, the vaccine is the only thing that makes a significant difference between mild and serious COVID-19 illness. With each new variant, the vaccines and boosters remain our most powerful tool to fight all the strains of COVID-19 and significantly reduce the severity of the illness.

Most favorably, the vaccine increases the chances of developing herd immunity in the population, preventing severe illness and ending this pandemic, once and for all.


We are at a crucial moment in human history and our actions today will help shape the future for so many. Arm yourself with the facts to make an informed decision.

Visit to find upcoming vaccination opportunities at Southcoast Health, and please speak to your medical provider if you have questions or concerns. You can also find other places to get vaccinated at