Talk to your doctor about COVID-19

I am asking you to make your personal physician your first line source for understanding the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the available vaccines.

On September 9, 2021, President Biden addressed the nation from the White House briefing room, sharing

where we are in the battle against COVID-19, the progress we’ve made, and the work we have left to do.

His remarks outlined a series of executives orders and recommendations which have been met with controversy; I will briefly list them but there was one that I think no one can disagree with. He asked the nation’s family physicians, and I am one, to talk to our patients about the vaccine.

I’m already doing that and I think most primary care doctors are. But I think he should have taken it one step further, and that is to ask Americans to

Talk to your doctor about COVID-19

a female physician talking to a male patient
photo from the LIGHTSTOCK.COM collection (affiliate link)

Like most of you, I am on social media, not just professionally but personally, and I have been appalled when people I know pass around information that is unverified, unreferenced, contrary to science, inflammatory, conspiratorial, and sometimes just plain nonsense.

I absolutely support anyone’s right to have an opinion and share it, but labeling opinion as truth when it may or may not be true is irresponsible. And I somewhat agree with Mr. Biden when he said ” These pandemic politics, as I refer to, are making people sick, causing unvaccinated people to die. “

So I am asking you to make your personal physician your first line source for understanding the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the available vaccines.

Your doctor may not be an expert on the pandemic; we are all working overtime to keep ourselves informed and still take care of the myriad of other health conditons our patients bring to us. But the advantage is your doctor knows you, and any medical decision ultimately boils down to what you and they decide working together, it’s called “shared decision making.”

What if your doctor recommends against the vaccine? That’s possible because I know there are some medical professionals who have taken the minority opinion on the safety of the vaccine. I do not understand their position; some of the high profile ones are known for consistently taking a stance against mainstream medicine. If that’s the case for you, I encourage you to ask why they lack confidence in the vaccine and what would it take for them to change their minds. Ultimately, the choice one way or the other is yours, so be sure it is a truly informed choice.

Michael Munger, M.D., consults a patient at his medical office in Overland Park, Kan.
Photo compliments of American Academy of Family Physicians

Biden’s plan

You’ve probably read or heard it in the news by now, but here is an outline of his major points.

Large employers, those with 100 or more employees, should require vaccination or weekly testing

Vaccination required for all federal employees and contractors

Vaccine required in all healthcare facilities that are paid by Medicare and Medicaid, and all federally funded educational facilities like HeadStart

Large venues such as sports or concerts to require vaccination or negative test for entrance by patrons

Home tests available at cost at Amazon, Walmart, and Kroger

Federal funding for testing at schools and salary protection for teachers who protect children

Continue mask requirements on interstate travel, and in federal buildings

Calling on the states’ governors to support viral mitagation measures in schools

President Biden Visits NIH Vaccine Research Center
NIH immunologist Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett speaks to President Joe Biden about the fundamental research that contributed to the development of the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines when the President visited NIH’s Vaccine Research Center on February 11, 2021. Credit: NIH/Chiachi Chang

Here is my previous review of President Biden’s original plan to deal with the pandemic as he took office in January 2021.

2021-National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness

President Biden, Vice President Harris, and their science and healthcare teams have developed a plan with 7 goals to end this pandemic and prevent others. You can read the entire 200 page report at the link. Here is a list of the 7 goals with a few of the points of each goal.

1. Restore trust with the American people.
  • establishes a federal COVID-19 response team to coordinate efforts
  • regular public briefings led by science experts
  • track and make data available to the public by the CDC
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to coordinate with the World Health Organization (WHO), federal, state and local public health partners, and clinicians in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. CDC is closely monitoring the situation and working 24/7 to provide updates.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to coordinate with the World Health Organization (WHO), federal, state and local public health partners, and clinicians in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. CDC is closely monitoring the situation and working 24/7 to provide updates credit James Gathany, public domain
2.Mount a safe, effective, and comprehensive vaccination campaign.
  • increase the production of vaccines
  • give states clearer projections on vaccine availability
  • partner with states to create more vaccine centers
  • launch a national campaign to educate and encourage Americans on vaccine
3. Mitigate spread through expanding masking, testing, data, treatments,health care workforce, and clear public health standards.
  • asking Americans to wear masks for 100 days (note-this adds to any state or local recommendations or mandates on mask use)
  • require masks on public transportation
  • the CDC develop guidelines to help schools and businesses to reopen
  • create programs to develop new treatments for COVID-19
cloth facial coverings to prevent transmission of COVID-19
Mask use required on airplanes, trains, and other public transportation
4.Immediately expand emergency relief and exercise the Defence Production Act.
  • increase emergency funding to the states for pandemic costs, including for PPE and use of National Guard
  • invoke the Defense Production Act to increase the supply of PPE, and testing and vaccination supplies
5. Safely reopen schools, businesses, and travel while protecting workers.
  • develop a national strategy to reopen most schools within 100 days
  • federal agencies to issue updated guidance on protection for workers
  • asks Congress to provide financial aid to schools, universities, and daycares (cost in the billions)
a girl with a large backpack, walking to a school bus
6. Protect those most at risk and advance equity, including across racial, ethnic and rural/urban lines.
  • establishes an equity task force to address disparities based on race, ethnicity, and geography
  • create a U.S. Public Health Workforce to help with testing and vaccinations in their communities
Healthy People 2030, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Retrieved [date graphic was accessed], from https://health.gov/healthypeople/objectives-and-data/social-determinants-health
7. Restore U.S. leadership globally and build better preparedness for future threats.
  • rejoin the World Health Organization
  • increase humanitarian aid and support efforts to fight COVID-19 around the world
  • asks for Congressional support to establish a national center to prepare for future biological threats
2 bandaids crossed on a world globe
photo from the Lightstock collection (affiliate link)

Exploring the HEART of health

I appreciate all of you who are following Watercress Words, and if you aren’t I invite you to join the wonderful people who are. You can meet some of them in the sidebar, where you can click on their image and visit their blogs. Use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me.

By following this blog, you’ll know when I post additional pieces reviewing the COVID-19 pandemic as well as other topics that explore the HEART of health.

2 oval plates with words "thank you"

Dr. Aletha

March Gladness-not Sadness-in 2021

On March 19, graduating medical students find out what residency program they will join through the National Resident Matching Program , which “matches” them with available positions in residencies all over the United States.

The clocks change, the season changes, physicians’ lives change, athletes compete, and a river turns green. It must be March, and most of us feel more hopeful than we did in March a year ago, as we entered the unknown of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Daylight Saving Time

Most of the United States changed to Daylight Saving Time on Sunday March 14, 2021. Hawaii and Arizona do not (the Navajo reservation in Arizona does.)

The territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands also do not observe DST.

My husband and I enjoying sun, colorful flowers, and cacti in Scottsdale, Arizona.

So if you don’t like changing your clocks, you might consider moving to one of those places.

St. Patrick’s Day

Of course you know that March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day.

The parade in Chicago has been cancelled, as it was last year due to the pandemic, but they revived the tradition of dying the Chicago River green.

My son took this photo a few years ago .  

The Chicago River is green on St. Patrick's Day
photo of the Chicago River dyed green for St. Patrick’s Day by Ryan Oglesby

Welcome Spring

We will welcome the  first day of Spring, March 20,  in the northern hemisphere, with the occurrence of the vernal equinox. I don’t think the virus can stop that, but may make it less enjoyable.

This link to The Weather Channel explains what the vernal equinox means.

graphic of the earth explaining equinox and solstice
original source not known

 

National Residency Match Day

On March 19, graduating medical students find out what residency program they will enter through the National Resident Matching Program , which “matches” them with available positions in residencies all over the United States.

Why should you care? This matching process determines who will care for our medical needs in the next 30-40 years; our family physicians, internists, pediatricians, general surgeons, obstetricians, dermatologists, psychiatrists, and the multitude of other medical specialties. Most doctors will continue in the same specialty their entire career, although some  switch after a few or many years.

For those graduates who match to a residency, especially if it is their top choice, it is a day for celebrating with family and friends, almost like a graduation. Last year and again this year, most of the celebrating will be done virtually, due to concerns about viral spread. Read more about

Why this year’s Match will be strikingly different

 

THE SURPRISING NEW DOCTORS CARING FOR YOU
photo from Lightstock.com, graphic created with Canva

Read this previous post about the new doctors who will care for you

National Doctor’s Day

March 30 has been designated National Doctor’s Day in the United States. You may not have heard of  a day to honor doctors. The idea came from a doctor’s wife, Eudora Brown Almond, and was first observed on March 30, 1933, in Winder, Georgia.

“Physicians don’t run from challenges. We run toward them.”

Dr. Patrice Harris

In 2020, Dr. Patrice Harris, past president of the AMA wrote this about National Doctor’s Day .

“Physicians display heroism and courage every day in their hospitals and clinics. But today, on National Doctors’ Day, their selflessness in the face of a deepening health crisis is truly extraordinary.

We’ve seen many cases in the U.S and around the globe in which physicians have fallen seriously ill or died after treating patients for COVID-19. The physical toll alone is daunting—extremely long and taxing hours in the hospital—but the emotional toll is just as significant, and enough to overwhelm even the most seasoned and experienced doctor. No one can say for sure how long the health threat will last or how much more our nation’s physicians will be asked to give.

When you ask physicians why they chose their profession, answers vary. But one theme tends to underlie all the responses: a profound commitment to helping others. We are called upon to help in moments like these. As I said in my inaugural address last year—that feels like a lifetime ago—“Physicians don’t run from challenges. We run toward them.” “

March Madness- NCAA basketball tournament

Even people who don’t follow college basketball tune in for March Madness-when college football teams vie to be named the National Champion. Cancelled last year, the tournament will resume this year on March 18, with protocols in place to prevent spread of the virus among the players.

the hands of several people holding a basketball
photo from LIGHTSTOCK.COM, an affiliate link

March 2020

You can reflect on March a year ago at this link

March 30 is Doctors' Day

March Sadness-how COVID-19 has changed 2020

In 2020 we’ll be thanking doctors for tackling this new and largely unknown disease that just a few weeks ago we knew little about. Since then we’ve learned it’s name, it’s genetic make up, symptoms, how it spreads, and complications, and slowly learning what does and does not work, and how to contain and stop it.

 

exploring the HEART of health

I appreciate all of you who are following Watercress Words, and if you aren’t I invite you to join the wonderful people who are. You can meet some of them in the sidebar, where you can click on their image and visit their blogs. Use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me.

 

Dr. Aletha

More scenes from Scottsdale Arizona, photos by Dr. Aletha