Physicians must lead by example on COVID-19 vaccine
by Stephen J. Grindel, DO —
My first interaction with medical care was at 3 weeks of age. I was sliced across my abdomen to repair a pyloric stenosis. The scar was large and I was teased in adolescence. I began telling my buddies that I had been in a knife fight, but I didn’t tell them it was with a surgeon.
The first medical care I recall was undergoing multiple myringotomies with subsequent placement of tympanostomy tubes for otitis media. This is a common procedure today, but 60 years ago it was novel. I did not know anyone else who had placement of tympanostomy tubes for at least 10 years after my experience.
What I really remember is that the physician was not sure how long the tube should remain. I was placed in a “straitjacket” for removal of the tubes in the office. I will never forget that procedure.
When I was older, it was determined the cause of my recurrent otitis media was allergies. The physician then prescribed “allergy shots,” which was another novel idea at the time. My allergist’s office was in an old house, and injections were given in a renovated woodshed out back. I was literally taken to the woodshed for inoculations!
Luckily, my father was receiving the injections at the same time. I trusted him and was reassured the shots were effective treatment because he also was willing to receive the treatment.
We all need to be mother/father figures for our patients and receive the COVID-19 vaccinations ourselves. The best way to show we believe in the treatment is to receive the immunization.
We now have an effective prevention method for COVID-19, along with wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing – but it must be administered. The studies are concerning regarding the number of people who may not wish to obtain vaccination. This is especially true regarding the most vulnerable patients.
According to a recent JAMA report, 62 percent of men are likely to obtain the vaccination compared with 51 percent of women. Meanwhile, 59 percent of whites are likely to be vaccinated compared with 38 percent of African Americans. There also is discrepancy between ages, with 69 percent of individuals older than 65 likely to obtain the vaccination compared with 51 percent of those younger than 65. In comparing education, 70 percent of college grads will most likely complete the vaccination compared with only 48 percent of high-school graduates.
We are the leaders in the medical community and we must convince the public that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective. The vaccines have undergone rigorous testing, and there is ongoing monitoring for adverse effects. We must dispel myths, correct misinformation and direct patients to sound scientific information (e.g., cdc.gov).
As soon as the COVID-19 vaccine became available, I signed up the first day and received it. The second day, my staff was eligible to receive the vaccination. Our manager told me that only half of the employees were electing to receive the treatment.
I began surveying individuals as to why they were hesitant in pursuing the vaccine treatment. Excuses ranged from “I’ll wait to see what happens” to concerns about safety, side effects and pain. These are concerns we must address with our staff and patients.
The opportunities to educate come about daily with almost every patient. Our willingness to promote the health of the individuals we serve is paramount in dealing with the pandemic.
The Medical Society of Sedgwick County is an outstanding organization due to the exceptional qualities of its members. I believe this society is one of the best in the country, if not the best. I have been honored to be a member for 30 years and look forward to serving you. Let us all take on the leadership role in fighting this pandemic.