I have always steered away from the debate on vaccines, but not this year. As an integrative physician and the head of a well-respected integrative clinic, I never thought I would make a recommendation so strongly in my many years of practice.
It seems so long ago, but when the first wave of the coronavirus hit in March, frontline healthcare workers, and the healthcare system were immensely overwhelmed. PPE was understocked and unavailable, vacant beds were running low, and there wasn’t always enough staff to attend to all of the infected patients. Although such shortages and, importantly, the failure of a national response, remain real challenges, we physicians have somehow found ways to treat the sickest patients.
As we inch into the fall and winter seasons, another potentially deadly virus disease — one we’re a lot more familiar with — is creeping up on us: The Flu. The combination of COVID-19 and the flu is deadly and has the potential to overwhelm hospitals all over again.
The flu recurs every year around this time and lasts through the winter season. According to the American CDC, John Hopkins University, The European CDC, and others, between 140,000 and 810,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 and 61,000 deaths occur because of the flu in the U.S. every year. This year, it’ll be hard to predict just how this “TWINDEMIC” will play out in Americans’ lives. It’s hard to tell the two diseases apart as the symptoms are similar, leading to confusion and likely complications.
The flu also has a different strain each year, and sometimes the vaccine may only be effective in 40-50% of cases. Yet, a 40-50% effective vaccine this year amidst COVID will save thousands of lives. Together with mask-wearing and social distancing, the spread of the flu could be lessened and not even be a threat this year. Again, it’s hard to tell, and the deadly consequences of contracting both viruses is not worth the risk.
Because of this unpredictability, it’s crucial for hospitals and healthcare providers to be prepared for whatever comes their way, starting with having enough PPE to treat growing numbers of patients. It’s also important to remember that healthcare workers, like myself, are people with family and children who depend on them. Being on the frontlines is incredibly stressful and takes a psychological toll. I know. Ask me, and I will tell you.
What can be done to prepare for the upcoming and unpredictable season?
- And in the words of Chris Wallace, the facilitator of the no-mask mandated presidential debate: “WEAR THE DAM MASK!” It’s not only for you; it’s for all of us who depend on you to help stop the spread of this disease. If you have any doubts about the effectiveness of wearing a mask, just look at the shameful superspread event at the White House a few days ago.
- Get your flu shot! It’s essential, especially for underserved communities who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, to get the flu shot to minimize any risks of contracting the flu.
- Take high doses of vitamin D and other supplements that have been proven effective. See my recommendations outlined in an e-book: https://akashacenter.com/the-bottom-line-on-supplements/
- Those 60 and older and 55 and up if you have risk factors, also consider taking the pneumonia vaccine (Pneumovax) and the shingles vaccine (Shingrex).
Note: We do not recommend that you take all three of these 3 vaccines together. Take them at least one week apart. The rationale is to give your body a chance to recover from each and, in the case of any possible side effects, it allows your physician to determine which one was the culprit. Be aware that, although not generally severe, EVERY VACCINE can cause a mild case of the diseases that are meant to fight. In some instances, such effects have been reported as severe. Discuss with your health care practitioner risk vs. benefits.
This physician will be recommending a flu shot to his patients, family, and friends this year.
Edison de Mello, MD, Ph.D. – is a board-certified integrative Medicine and the Medical Director of the Akasha Center for Integrative Medicine in Santa Monca, CA.
For information about Dr de Mello’s practice and speaking engagements, please contact hsi patient care coordinator, Corynen Ranion at Crarion@akahacenter.com