First, I was really pleased that the kerfluffle I expected in the wake of last week’s Health Tip asking (no, begging) Dr. Joseph Mercola to stifle his anti-vax stance never materialized. He, of course, does have his disciples. Otherwise he wouldn’t be coining $110 million a year.
But a good number of our readers are done with his unscientific drivel and said so in comments. It’s worth noting that Mercola is a licensed osteopath and should know better.
My mentioning this is not meant to impugn the osteopathic profession. Just the opposite. The education a doctor of osteopathy (DO) receives and her scope of medical practice is essentially the same as an MD’s.
Nevertheless, osteopaths often feel they need to explain this to the general public. And thus after the Mercola piece I received a couple of emails from osteopaths who felt embarrassed by Mercola’s existence and wished he would just go away.
Enough about that. Anyone who succumbs to Covid because they followed the antivax advice from Mercola’s website (and many others) may be a simple example of Darwinian natural selection.
No, I take that back. That’s unkind.
Children hit by Covid Delta variant and still adults don’t vax
The current delta surge, with 99% of cases occurring in the unvaccinated, is hitting children especially hard. Totally innocent, the kids are unaware of the parental complicity in their illness.
In Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, and Florida, among other states, pediatric ICUs are filling up. At the same time, Florida’s governor on Friday announced he plans to issue an executive order to stop schools from requiring face masks.
Neighboring states are loaning hospitals both extra staff and extra ventilators.
It seems that across the US almost half the country is not being vaccinated against an illness that can kill or leave you with a lifetime a symptoms, including chronic heart, lung, brain, and nerve problems.
Sunday’s New York Times has a lengthy article about just who chooses to remain unvaccinated and why they are doing so.
The authors divide the unvaccinated into two main groups, the Undecided and the Never. Most of the undecided are “waiting to see how COVID pans out” or “waiting for full FDA approval” or “watching for the long-term effects of vaccines on others.”
The Never group are a different breed altogether. Statistically less educated than the first group, there’s a literal disbelief in the virus itself (“a hoax”), bizarre theories about the vaccines (“microchips,” “DNA shifts”), a bit of magical thinking (“I won’t get Covid”), or simply a lifetime of being uninvolved with anyone other than their family, church, and a few neighbors.
In case you missed this story, the lede says (almost) everything:
A Tennessee lawmaker who battled Covid-19 for nearly eight months is encouraging the public to “consider getting vaccinated.”
After 55 days on a ventilator Republican Rep. David Byrd’s liver began to fail. He was lucky enough to receive a transplant in June. This after downplaying the seriousness of Covid in 2020.
Unvaxxed patients talk to me
About a quarter of the patients I see every day have chosen to remain unvaccinated. Of course when an unvaccinated patient comes in, both of us wear a mask. The person sitting across from me might be a carrier soon to develop symptoms. Unfortunately, according to recent data from the CDC, the same could apply to me, but the odds are 1/100th of hers.
After we review the reasons for making the appointment, I say, “Do you mind my asking why you’ve chosen not to get vaccinated?”
And for me, here’s the best part. There’s never been a single moment where what I wanted to do was slap my forehead and shout “That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard.” Not once. No, quite the opposite—these are legitimate concerns.
Read this list of the type of responses I hear:
- “I’m really concerned about side effects. I’m very sensitive to meds. I’ve been wiped out by flu shots.”
- “My friend was laid up for two weeks after his Covid shot.”
- “I’ve got (names her own chronic illness) and worry that the shot night cause a flare-up.”
- “I don’t like the way this whole thing is being rushed.”
- “I just don’t believe I need it. I’m one of these fortunate people who never gets sick.”
- “I’m not saying I’ll never get the shot. I’m just waiting until I see if it’s completely safe.”
In response, I first try to address the specific fear, pointing out that, fortunately, serious side effects from the jab are very rare considering the tens of millions of doses that have been administered. And that as a group vaccines are among our safest medicines (far safer than, for example, antibiotics) despite the lies of the antivaxxers.
Most important, we could rid the world of Covid altogether if enough of us get immunized against it, but it will take 90% for us to reach herd immunity. I believe that issuing vaccine passports for travel, concerts, and other activities are positive steps in this direction.
When I was a kid, there were 50,000 cases of polio a year, leaving some of my playmates paralyzed for life. In 1954, Dr. Jonas Salk administered the first polio vaccine, “The shot heard around the world.”
Polio vanished. Smallpox has vanished.
Covid could vanish too.
David Edelberg, MD