Pandemic Perspective #25     September 12, 2020

Upcoming presentations

Wednesday, September 16th, 1:00 p.m. Medical miracles since you were a kid. In the year 1940 the world stood on the threshold of many if not most of the astounding advances in the field of medicine. Since then three generations of physicians and scientists have performed surgery on infants still in the womb, restored vision and hearing to the blind and deaf, eliminated through drugs and vaccines diseases that killed tens of millions of children every year and made organ transplants routine. Join us as we describe these and many other medical marvels that were once in the realm of science fiction. Sponsored by OASIS. To register see their web site at http://www.SanDiegoOasis.org. (Don’t follow this link, but go via Google.)

Monday, September 21, 9:30 a.m. Medical miracles since you were a kid. In the year 1940 the world stood on the threshold of many if not most of the astounding advances in the field of medicine. Since then three generations of physicians and scientists have performed surgery on infants still in the womb, restored vision and hearing to the blind and deaf, eliminated through drugs and vaccines diseases that killed tens of millions of children every year and made organ transplants routine. Join us as we describe these and many other medical marvels that were once in the realm of science fiction. Sponsored by Osher Lifelong Learning Center. To register see their web site at http://www.csusm.edu/el/olli or call 800-500-9377.

Wednesday, September 30th, 1:00 p.m. Being a kid in the Stone Age. A pregnant woman in the Stone Age was healthier than a modern woman and her child benefited as a result. In spite of the hazards of infections that have been under control in the Western world for many decades, children who were born tens of thousands of years ago would become strong, healthy adults. None would suffer from the chronic diseases of modern life. Learn about how they were born, raised and nurtured in a primitive world. Sponsored by OASIS. To register see their web site at http://www.SanDiegoOasis.org. (Don’t follow this link, but go via Google.)

A four-pronged vaccine strategy

            With more than 150 companies scrambling to market the first and the best COVID-19 vaccine, not enough attention is being paid to three other vaccines that are going to play a major role in the nation’s health in the next few months.

            In contrast with those who endured the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919, we have less to fear from bacterial infections that were the actual causes of death a century ago. It wasn’t the virus that killed most of those who died during what has erroneously been called The Spanish Influenza. Although many did suffer from a rapid and devastating viral disease, there were four common bacteria that caused most deaths. One of these, Hemophilus influenzae, was recovered from about a third of autopsied victims and it was incorrectly thought to be the actual cause of the pandemic. Many were infected with the pneumococcus, one of the most common agents of simple pneumonia (as well as serious diseases such as meningitis and bloodstream infections in children).

            Hemophilus influenzae seldom causes disease in adults and the vaccine that children receive has virtually eliminated serious infections such as meningitis and throat infections that formerly were common causes of death and disability.

            An effective vaccine has been available for the pneumococcus for decades and it is recommended for anyone over the age of 65. The recommendations change from time to time so you need to check with your physician. It is also routinely given to children.

            If you were born prior to 1995 you probably had chickenpox – and maybe you thought that you had lifelong immunity. That’s only half right. You won’t get chickenpox again but that sneaky virus never left! It has taken up residence in your spinal cord and when conditions are right it will creep out, usually through nerves that emerge in the side of your chest or abdomen, sometimes in the face, to cause an intensely painful, blistering rash called shingles.

            One of those “conditions” is anything that temporarily lowers your resistance, and a viral infection is a good example. Influenza is one of those viruses, like measles and chickenpox itself that dampens the immune response. That’s why influenza victims so commonly are carried off by secondary bacterial invaders. And when you have the flu, which impairs the immune response, the chickenpox virus takes the opportunity to emerge and produce shingles. The good news is that the new shingles vaccine, called Shingrix, is much better than the older version and the protection lasts longer. The bad news is that it requires two injections, two to six months apart, and the side effects are a little worse: pain at the injection site and just feeling lousy for a couple of days. However, considering that common side effects of shingles include post herpetic neuralgia, pain that can last forever, and blindness if the shingles rash emerges on the face, the side effects of the vaccine are a small price to pay.

            Then there’s the influenza vaccine. As noted in prior blogs, it doesn’t always prevent the flu but it nearly always works well enough to keep you out of the hospital where dangerous bacteria, some of which are resistant to all available antibiotics, always lurk. Let that one settle in!!

            The fourth vaccine and the most problematic is the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. No one can predict how well it will work, what kind of side effects to expect and how long it will maintain its protective effect. Although the first release may happen before the end of the year it will take many months before we know the answers to those questions.

In the meantime:

            Get the flu, pneumonia and shingles vaccines.

            Stay well-nourished, especially to make sure to have an adequate intake of vitamins C and D, protein and omega-3 fats

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s