As physicians we’re used to encountering illness on a daily basis. And 18 months in, COVID-19 illnesses are unfortunately all too familiar.
But this wave is different. Even in our profession, never did we expect it to go on this long. Never did we expect to see so many kids get so sick; so many ICUs get overrun, again; so few staff to go around that we just don’t get a break or even - in the case of some of our colleagues - leave the profession; so much death. Some communities have been driven to the brink of complete shutdown.
And that’s just it. Every community is different. Every wave of this pandemic has been different. And every patient is different. In the beginning we all thought this disease’s biggest threat was to the elderly and those with preexisting conditions. The delta variant changed that, attacking younger, stronger people.
That is why we need to change our tactics against this viral enemy. It’s attacking our neighbors, friends, and loved ones locally, so we need a local approach to fight back.
There have been glimmers of hope: Some of the long conversations my physician colleagues and I been having lately with parents are paying off. As their children head back to school – a good many of them unable to get vaccinated yet if they are under the age of 12 – these parents are reconsidering and recognizing the importance of getting vaccinated themselves in order to protect their family members, young and old.
These are the kinds of stories that give us as physicians a brief respite, a sigh of relief. And yet, we still find ourselves mourning the loss of two teachers in a single school district within days of each other to this dreadful and indiscriminate virus we know so much about yet are still trying hard to understand.
The best way to ride or even calm these waves in the long run – and heaven forbid the next disease outbreak, or wave of flu or respiratory virus, which are already here – is by giving local physicians and health departments and governing officials the ability to confront what’s before them right then and there, right here and now.
That’s why the Texas Medical Association and Texas Pediatric Society have impressed upon Gov. Greg Abbott the need for all institutions – including schools, school districts, hospitals, health care facilities, medical schools, and medical centers, regardless of funding source – to be able to make local, independent decisions regarding vaccinations and the use of masks, preferably in consultation with physicians in those communities, and always using evidence-based data to inform their decisions.
As physicians we know there is no panacea for disease, which is why our organizations are not asking for statewide mandates. On the contrary, we are asking for our local entities to have autonomy to fight this virus and protect our citizens—our patients—with the best tactics needed on the home front. We are asking to be able to use every possible tool at our disposal when we need it most. And we really need them now.
It’s what we as individual physicians would do for every one of our patients. And we never want to treat each patient the same. We are all different. Let’s treat this pandemic with the respect it deserves.
Villarreal is president of the Texas Medical Association and Kaplan is president of the Texas Pediatric Society.
This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Commentary: We need a local approach to fight this viral enemy
Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/commentary-we-need-a-local-approach-to-fight-this-viral-enemy/ar-AAOo5H9683