Here we are over a year later and unfortunately, COVID is still a major topic of conversation. It saddens me for all of us that we still must talk about and worry about this unique virus. I know we are all sick of it (pun intended 😀 ). I am sure we all hoped that by this point, it would be behind us, and yet here we stand. Given that we are in the midst of another “wave” of infections, I thought it was a good time to talk about where we are with the virus and give you my opinion and recommendations on the COVID vaccines that are currently available.
I will start with the current surge in cases. I share your frustration in the ever-changing narrative of which targets we are tracking. In the beginning we tracked the number of deaths from the virus. Then we started to focus on hospitalizations. Now, most sources are looking mainly at cases. This shifting in information can be confusing, misleading and scary. It is poor messaging like this that breeds confusion, cynicism and distrust. I have heard it from many of you and have expressed it myself. I have tried to stay consistent in my messaging and have therefore stuck with monitoring hospitalizations in our state to gauge not only the incidence of new cases, but the severity of those cases, as reflected by the need for inpatient care. Georgia has a great website to track this here. For effect I am including the graph as of today (August 18, 2021):
You can see the biggest spike was at the beginning of the year in January 2021. You will also note that we are rapidly heading back to that peak now. Unfortunately, several of you have been included in this spike of hospitalizations. I had originally hoped that many of us would be able to fly under the radar by limiting our exposure and being smart and safe when going about the business of daily living. It has become clear that this is not going to be the case. I think the unfortunate reality is that we are all going to be exposed to this virus and its spike protein in one way or another, whether through getting ill or getting the vaccine. I just do not see any way around it. As this virus continues to mutate and spread it is only a matter of time before you will be exposed to it. My fear, similar to what many of you have expressed, is that the exposure will lead to severe illness.
Fortunately, recent data has shown that there is a way to limit the severity of illness. There is so much controversy and fear surrounding this virus and you all know me well enough to know that a lecture about why everyone should get the vaccine, either by choice or by force, is not happening here. I think such tactics have been highly detrimental to our ability to come together and act freely for ourselves armed with the proper information. The messaging from our political and medical establishment on the pandemic has been poor from the very beginning. Throw in the hyper-partisan nature of our politics these days and you have a recipe for the chaos and confusion we have been experiencing this last year and a half.
The Take-Away About Vaccines
All that being said, I want to be clear about our stance here at Bianco Primary Care on preventing COVID-19 infection and the use of the current vaccines. COVID-19 is especially dangerous for those who are obese (as defined by a BMI>30), age 70 or older, have diabetes, hypertension, or other chronic cardiovascular or pulmonary disease. If you fall into one or more of these categories, you should get a vaccination if you have not already had a true COVID illness. This will greatly reduce your risk of severe illness, hospitalization, or death. The numbers on this are abundantly clear at this point. I know there are breakthrough cases with the vaccine (we have seen lots of them) but the numbers indicate that those cases are much milder than the cases in those without the vaccine.
For the rest of you who do not fall into these categories, your risk of serious illness is much lower but there is still risk. Given that, you should consider the vaccine to protect yourself to the extent that you can if you have not already had COVID. I know many of you are skeptical of the vaccine given how new it is and how quickly it was brought to market. I have shared that skepticism as I do with any new therapeutic in medicine without robust data on safety and efficacy. We all have our anecdotes about someone who had a bad side effect from the vaccine as well. The numbers are telling a story now however, and that story is that the vaccines are preventing more serious illness and death and have shown to be safe. I have looked at the data on all three vaccines and do not see any evidence of any significant numbers of side effects, including blood clots, infertility, etc. With any therapeutic, there will be those who have some side effects. The question then is do the side effects outweigh the overall benefit. In this case the current data suggests the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks of side effects.
- If you meet any of the following criteria: age greater than 70 years, have obesity, heart disease, lung disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes, and have not already had COVID, you should be vaccinated.
- If you are considered low-risk are otherwise healthy and have not already had COVID19, we encourage you to strongly consider getting vaccinated to help mitigate your risk of severe illness.
Our desire is always to do everything we can to keep you healthy. We strive to do that in an open and honest way, giving you the best information we have, and allowing you to make the decisions that you deem to be best for you and your family. We hope this article helps you in your quest for optimal health and for you to be your best self!!
A Final Note
As noted above the best protection against COVID and any other disease is to have healthy nutrition and fitness habits. This has been lost in the arguments over masks and vaccines and social distancing, but it remains the best thing you can do for your health in the short and long term. If you have not already started to build better habits, then I urge you to embark immediately. We have a wonderful resource in our office with our Nutrition and Fitness expert, Kathryn Terry. She is fantastic and takes a personal approach to find the things that fit your lifestyle and family culture that can get you on the right track. We have even created new membership options that include sessions with Kathryn to make it as easy as possible for you to take advantage of her expertise. I encourage you to call the office (678-254-2333) or use our contact us form to set up a complimentary “meet the nutritionist” appointment.