Should Everyone Get Vaccinated

Work

We all know the story: Responsible Al who never misses a day comes into the office sneezing and coughing. We offer Al a cough drop and tissue paper, hold our noses and hope Al doesn’t make us sick. But he does. Later that night, we start to have the same cough and before you know it, we are debating if we are going to pull an Al and come to work the next day. Saturday is the day we must go and visit our mother-in-law in the nursing home….

School

We are always rushed in the morning, and our eight-year-old is complaining they are not feeling well. With the carpool, 9:00am meeting, and no one available for a last-minute baby-sitting favor, we are forced to send the child to school. Unknowing, in the carpool ride home, your child is with another youngster’s sibling who has an immune deficiency. With the windows rolled up and everyone singing the latest pop chorus jingle, soon everyone in the car has the infection.

Social

Another scenario: you are not feeling your greatest, but you promised a group of friends that this time you were not going to flake on drinks. You take a couple of Tylenols and an hour later, you are at the bar, hoping the gin and tonic will be an excuse for your red eyes. You are laughing and hugging, and by the end of the night, you feel one hundred but notice your friend now has that same sneeze you woke up with.

Sound familiar? Life happens all the time, but that does not make us bad parents, irresponsible co-workers, or a bad friend. What if this time, it is more than a cold? What if the bad cough, congestion, or fever are more than just a cold or the flu. What if in our post-2020 world, this is COVID or a new variant. Have we done the right thing by avoiding a vaccination? Yes, we are ok, but what about those around us who are not as lucky.

 In 2019, there were 22,000 reported deaths from the flu in the United States (CDC.GOV). In 2020, there were over 360,000 deaths due to COVID-19 the numbers tell the story of just how important this vaccination may be.  

by

Dane Flanigan

CEO ultraHealth Agency

Homecare Will Change Moving Forward

Home health has been here long before what we now know as modern medicine. Even before there were organized hospitals, medicine people of the town / village were making house calls for the sick and delivering babies. Let us define the 21st century vocabulary of home health: Home health is or maybe was defined as “Care in a wide range of health care services that can be given in your home.”  Medicare.Gov. The home healthcare provider is a practitioner who checks on a person’s welfare daily, weekly or a few times a month with a myriad of services that range from medication, physical therapy to helping with daily functions like bathing. These services have changed the way we think of healthcare in the modern age. The discussion on changing healthcare always starts with affordability and ends with access. Let us talk about how that access has changed via technology which may play a key role in increasing affordability.

Now that we are in the pandemic period of COVID-19, new information on using technology and revitalizing home services is key.  Just like food delivery services have been around for generations, the pandemic has forced us to rely on these services more. Thus, more delivery services are faster and easier. What was once viewed as a  convenience became a transport of necessity that changed personal habits, public perception, and an increase in investment in new technology.

In addition, the pandemic has fostered awareness of telehealth services since in March and April of 2020, most hospitals decided to limit the entry of non-emergency patients to stop the spread of the virus and conserve resources.  People who needed to check in with their practitioners had to think of other ways to communicate face to face. As corporations hopped on screen calls, schools had kids logging onto the web for class, telehealth became the access point for medical professionals for a one-one dialogue. In addition, care facilities started to increase the technical aptitude both for the infrastructure and the staff.

 At the University of Wisconsin Health, Dr. Pete Newcomer, Chief Medical Officer,  states that telehealth was “minimal” before the pandemic but now  he sees it at 30% of patient visits. Madison.com   The demand for people to converse has not changed, but the method of communication has transformed how it is viewed and distributed to the market.  With the Biden Administration’s new plans for a $400 billion investment into “home – or community-based care”, there is going to be more discussion about access, communication and how technology will be at the forefront. Let’s start a new definition – one defined by people, structured in communication and lives in health.

By Dane Flanigan

CEO ultraHealth Agency

How We Handle Panic in this Pandemic

Cartoon by marshall ramsey

New Zealand Vs. the UK: How these Countries Measure up During COVID-19

It’s been almost a year since COVID-19 appeared and sent the world into mass chaos, but now that vaccines are rolling out, it almost seems like we’re out of the woods. In retrospect, it’s easy to critique how worldwide governments have handled the coronavirus from the beginning until now. It’s common knowledge that the United States was one of the worst countries to deal with the coronavirus, clocking in at around 31.4 million cases and about 563,000 deaths. But what might not be so common is the fact that countries like Taiwan, New Zealand, Iceland, and Singapore were some of the best countries to combat COVID-19, while the US, the UK, Brazil, and Mexico were the worst.

            Right now, life in New Zealand is mask-free and as normal as it can get with the coronavirus still running amok through the rest of the world. New Zealand sits at a total of 2,201 cases and a whopping 26 deaths from COVID-19. These numbers may be due to its smaller population size, but despite their numbers, we can still admire how New Zealand locked down hard after COVID cases started appearing in the country. Instead of just “flattening the curve,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern administered a “disease elimination” approach to the coronavirus by announcing a full national lockdown on March 26, 2020 after 102 cases were reported. By swiftly reporting COVID cases, imposing flight restrictions and locking down the country in the beginning of 2020, New Zealand managed to almost eliminate the curve and efficiently succeeded in bringing their country back from the brink of COVID chaos.

            On the other hand, the United Kingdom’s response to the coronavirus was less than stellar, with 4.36 million cases and around 126,955 deaths. COVID guidelines from the government were ambiguous at best, with the Prime Minister Boris Johnson encouraging citizens to go about their business as COVID cases in the UK were confirmed. Like New Zealand, the UK entered nation-wide lockdown around the same time on March 23, 2020, but unlike New Zealand, the UK had over 6,500 cases and 330 deaths at this time. Similar to the US in the early days of COVID-19, the UK struggled with overcapacity in hospitals, failed to lockdown in time to curb COVID, and didn’t establish an efficient COVID testing system early on.

            From a surface level, there’s not much different between the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Both European countries have universal health care and similarly structured governments. We can’t place the blame definitively on one thing or another, but we do know that the reaction of our world leaders and how our communities support each other directly influence how we handle panic in this pandemic.

By Callum Lee

Bad Politics or Good Health

The Recall of Governor Newsom

In 2002 Governor Grey Davis, was recalled because of rolling power blackouts and his issues on gun control. The replacement was an economic disaster as he was supplanted by a Hollywood Rockstar who was a first and only time politician. Is the recall case against Governor Newsome just bad optics; after all, his measures to curb COVID-19 in California seemed to work?

There have been 59,985 deaths in the state of California. Statista.com outlines these deaths per capita based on 100,000. As listed, New Jersey leads the way with New York a close second and Massachusetts coming in a tight third. The lockdown measures in California were stern and swift; overnight the state became the no-fun zone as COVID-19 surged. One could argue because of the swift action of the Governor’s Office, many deaths and the spread of the coronavirus were prevented, and the rebound that the state is now experiencing is directly related.

Governor Newsom said his actions moving forward would be dictated by the data. One of the key issues we faced globally, and especially in California, is that the intensive care and emergency rooms were being overwhelmed with COVID patients. It makes sense to want to limit the spread of the virus. But American pushed back. In states like Michigan, their Supreme Court acted to limit Governor Whitmer’s emergency orders on October 2, 2020.

“The Michigan Supreme Court has ruled against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer concerning her many emergency orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.” WWJ Radio

This week in late April, Michigan is having their highest COVID cases since April of 2020, and their hospitals beds are filled with patients. Meanwhile in California, people are still wearing masks, and the spread of the disease is on the decline.

Maybe this is just bad optics, but Governor Newsome was seen dining at The French Laundry, an upscale eatery in Northern California. In mid-December, he issued the closure of all restaurant dining restaurants after many had spent money to ramp up for the holiday season and prepare their eateries for outdoor activities.

The optics were terrible. Some businesses were forced to close for good, people were out of jobs, and many were left without an escape to home life. In addition, some of the smaller cities in California did not see the high numbers as their associated county, and data was suggesting that outdoor dining did not spread the disease. This became the battle of restaurant v. county as many restaurateurs balked at the data used to close.

There is no doubt Governor Newsom has done and will continue to do some great things for the state of California. Did he do a good job handling the pandemic? Yes and no. Raise your hand if you are perfect at your job (that is a rhetorical question). He made some mistakes. He is in the public eye so the pictures of him at a fancy restaurant while business owners are forced to close, and people are being laid off is hard to swallow.

There is a valid argument that we were forced closed too much and for too long without looking at all the data, but time will tell, and it is already beginning to show as we look at Michigan that maybe this was good health but bad politics.

By Dane Flanigan

Why People are Scared of the Covid Vaccination

from: My Shot ll Hamilton Animatic YouTube

There are some valid reasons people have to the Covid -19 vaccinations, getting the most information might be our best shot.

We now have three vaccines to fight COVID19. Moderna, Pfitzer and Johnson & Johnson’s versions have proven to be effective. Nature Medicine surveyed 19 countries and only 71% of the population surveyed said they would take the vaccine.  As Americans hit drive-throughs, pharmacies and hospitals, people are excited that relief is on the way but not everyone is getting the vaccine. Why not?

It came quick. For some, there is the fear that the vaccine was rushed. In the past, a vaccine would have taken years to develop, test and bring to the market. Because of the global pandemic, the trials and tests were placed at the front of the line.

There is always an overall phobia of doctors and needles. Let us not pretend that everyone is comfortable going to the doctor’s office. It probably goes back to when we were kids, and the only good thing about the physician experience was the occasional lollypop and Spider-man band aid that we could show to our other siblings.  

We are also dealing with the sentiments of the anti-vaxx movement as seen in a 2019 April 19th   interview with Insider.Com, where Dr. Peter Hotez outlines the views of the movement,  “It’s this massive propaganda campaign and by some estimates there are almost 500 anti-vaccine websites on Facebook. They weaponize Amazon… we are seeing real public health damage being done.” That was the kind of disinformation we had before the worldwide pandemic. What are we going to face next?

We take the wait and see approach. There are those who are awaiting to see what happens to everyone else, which is not a bad stance. People over the age of 65 years and those with underlying conditions are vulnerable, so we need to be mindful that our refusal to vaccinate could affect them, especially those in daily interactions with the public.

“If we can get to 80% population immunity by the end of the summer, then we won’t see a surge next winter because this is basically a winter respiratory virus and it’ll be back unless a significant percentage of the population get vaccinated,” said Dr. Paul Offit. Can we get to herd immunity if we take the wait and see approach?

It is a personal decision, but let us make it a smart one. If we ado or do not get the vaccine, let us reach out to valued healthcare professionals and ask them to help. Our doctors have more medical history than we do personally looking at any random article found on the internet.  There are vaccine-educated practitioners in every hospital. Let’s get us get the most information possible and make the best decisions. 

CDC Information on Covid -19 inoculations

by Dane Flanigan

ultraHealth Agency