An Ounce of Prevention
These are unsettling times, especially when it comes to matters of health.
We will, one hopes, learn many lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the most important will be the lasting reminder that we each have a responsibility to take care of ourselves and each other.
Nationally, there is strong evidence that many people have put off cancer screenings due to the pandemic. We’ve seen this trend at Mary Greeley and McFarland Clinic. These screenings are one of the easiest and most important preventative health steps that a person can take. A National Cancer Institute report indicated that an additional 10,000 people could die from breast and colon cancer because they delayed screenings due to the pandemic.
We await a vaccine for COVID-19 but the flu vaccine is here and readily available. Unfortunately, less than half of Americans get the vaccine. That’s particularly troubling when many medical professionals are saying that because of the convergence of COVID-19 and flu, this year might be the most important year to get a flu vaccine. Clinics and pharmacies have the vaccine ready at an affordable cost. County health offices are offering vaccines free of charge for underinsured and uninsured.
COVID-19 is still with us, making the need for masks and physical distancing ever present. (Handwashing is important, too, but it’s always important.) These measures are going to grow in importance as cold weather and holidays approach. A new report from the CDC suggests that small gatherings are driving a rise in COVID-19 cases. CDC Director Paul Redfield recently was quoted as saying, “What we’re seeing as the increasing threat right now is actually acquisition of infection through small household gatherings... We think it’s really important to stress the vigilance of these continued mitigation steps in the household setting.”
A recent 60 Minutes segment on efforts to develop a COVID-19 vaccine reported that doctors they interviewed would prefer people wear masks than hold out hope for a vaccine. While a vaccine is on the way, the doctors stressed that mask wearing is proving to be the best strategy against spreading the virus.
The New Year is approaching and with it comes those proverbial resolutions that are easy to make and easier to ignore. For 2021, maybe that could change. Maybe we need to resolve to re-commit to COVID-19 preventative measures. Maybe we need to truly resolve to take better care of ourselves. That means exercising, eating healthier, quitting smoking or vaping, listening to the experts, and, above all, appreciating each other more, especially the most vulnerable members of our families and communities.
Current & Past Issues