THE DOCTOR IS IN-Let's make something clear: the biggest problem with COVID-19 are the competing messages and conflicting narratives that confuse virtually everyone.
1) Is China to blame, with the never-ending and non-resolved question of whether this virus was manufactured and accidentally spread to the rest of the world, or was it one of those events that Mother Nature sometimes throws at the world?
2) Was and is our response to COVID-19 too heavy or too light?
3) Were there political and economic agendas that did and do muddy up the waters about how to treat, and how to respond, to COVID-19? Is it about election interference and/or government control of its citizens, or is it just about "following the science" and saving lives?
4) Does ivermectin and vaccination work, should we still mask up in certain locations, or are there agendas from Big Pharma and the government that ignore the effectiveness and safety of how to confront a virus that might again cause illness and death to become a huge problem this fall?
5) Is the Delta Variant of COVID-19 as dangerous as feared, or is it really just a problem in the Third World where widespread vaccination has not occurred?
Who to trust? What to believe? How to proceed?
But there ARE some truisms that we cannot ignore, and enjoy overall consensus in our conflicted and confused American society:
1) 96% of surveyed American physicians report having been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Let THAT be your overarching answer to the question of "should I consider getting vaccinated", because most doctors do "follow the science".
2) The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) just slapped down Pfizer and Moderna in their attempt to get an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for a booster shot.
3) The CDC is looking into if COVID booster shots would bring more serious side effects, because both the standard side effects (cold-like symptoms, aches, pains, fatigue, etc.) are being joined with concerns of heart inflammation (myocarditis) and other more serious side effects.
4) The CDC is still doing studies on the need for booster shots, because both COVID-19's older variants and the newer Delta Variant that started in India are on the rise.
It is MY OWN OPINION ALONE that some who are immunocompromised, and who are around seniors and patients more than others, or who have certain illnesses that prevent a proper response to vaccination very much WILL need a booster shot, and that the CDC will create havoc and chaos to reject booster shots now, but then turn around and change its mind as autumn and winter approach.
5) Masks are no longer needed in public places, but ARE still needed in medical settings, and the question of dense, indoor gatherings versus less crowded/more open settings remains unanswered.
6) The greater the percentage of a population that is vaccinated, the more EVERYONE is protected. Those not vaccinated benefit, too...which begs the questions of whether vaccination should be pushed more, and how to push that vaccination effort, and which groups to push the most?
7) Infections and inoculums (the amount of virus you get exposed to that might or might not cause you to get sick) with COVID-19 are less potent in the warmer months, so infections in the cooler months will potentially lead to more of us getting sick (even those already vaccinated, albeit with a greater likelihood of a mere cold).
The bottom line, therefore, is this: while those of us vaccinated with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines enjoy the greatest likelihood of protection for the immediate future, things will likely get more tough this fall as the weather cools.
As aforementioned, 96% of doctors are vaccinated, so if you are on the fence, please strongly consider vaccination RIGHT NOW...but do NOT stay on that fence beyond October 1, because the nightmare scenario of NOT being vaccinated in November and beyond, and WISHING YOU WERE VACCINATED is one you want to avoid at all costs.
(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D, is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He was termed out of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC) twice after two stints as a Board member for 8-9 years and is also a Board member of the Westside Village Homeowners Association. He previously co-chaired the MVCC Outreach, Planning, and Transportation/Infrastructure Committees. He was previously co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee, the grassroots Friends of the Green Line (which focused on a Green Line/LAX connection), and the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at [email protected]. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.) Image: Drew Dzwonkowski / New York Daily News.