Tag Archives: health

How Much Sympathy Should We Have For Anti-Vaxxers Who Get COVID-19?

Vietnam companies agree COVID-19 vaccine tech transfer with Japan's  Shionogi - media | Reuters

In general, I try to be a compassionate, understanding person. That’s how my parents raised me. That’s how most decent human beings are brought up in this world. It’s how we, as a species, learn to cooperate, co-exist, and work together to survive and thrive. It’s a beautiful thing, indeed.

However, it has limits.

Lately, the anti-vaxx crowd who refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine are really testing it.

I’ve gone on my share of rants about the anti-vaxx crowd whose idiocy is bound to get people killed. With each passing day, those who resist or protest the vaccines become less and less sympathetic. We’re getting to a point where there’s no real excuse for concern or hesitation.

Not getting this vaccine to end this deadly plague is no longer a product of politics or protest. It’s just people being assholes.

With all that in mind, I’m honestly not sure how to feel about vocal anti-vaxx people who get seriously sick with COVID-19. These stories are becoming increasingly common. A few have even died because they refused to get the vaccine. Reckless behavior aside, they’re human beings. Their lives mattered and their death will be felt by family and loved ones.

At the same time, these people were fucking idiots. This is not a mild case of Chicken Pox. COVID-19 is a deadly pandemic. Before the vaccines came along, it was killing people by the thousands. It didn’t care about borders, ethnicity, political affiliation, or religion. People were suffering and dying. We all had to drastically change our lives just to contain it.

Then, a vaccine comes along and it works. It works incredibly well and promises to end this pandemic once and for all. We can have our lives back and save countless more.

Somehow, that’s not enough for these people. They still refuse to subject themselves to a simple shot, which could save their lives and the lives of those around them. We have the cure, but they refuse to take it.

How can we have sympathy for that?

Moreover, how can we be compassionate when these same people get horribly sick?

I honestly don’t have an answer. It’s an open question that I find myself struggling with each passing day. I tend to have a lot of faith in humanity. Even for people I despise, I try to be understanding and compassionate.

This time, however, I have a hard time mustering much sympathy. These people lived through the same horrors we all did. They saw all the death and suffering that this virus was causing. Then, when a vaccine comes along to stop all that, they choose not to take it.

At that point, they’re not victims anymore. They’re responsible for this state. They willingly jumped off a cliff without a parachute because they didn’t trust the parachute. I can sympathize with a lot of things, but I can’t sympathize with this.

Maybe I’ll feel differently as things play out. For now, I just don’t know.

I’ll pose this question to anyone who reads this. How much sympathy should we have for these people at this stage of the pandemic? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Also, and I know this might be a futile effort, please get vaccinated.

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COVID-19 Restrictions Lifted: Thoughts, Feelings, And (Unexpected) Implications

Mayo Expert: Fla. Will Suffer 'Unnecessary Deaths' As COVID-19 Restrictions  Are Lifted | WJCT NEWS

This past week marked a huge milestone for my home state. Like so many others, the COVID-19 restrictions that have pretty much defined our lives since late March of 2020 were finally lifted. At this very moment, we are no longer in a State of Emergency.

There are no more capacity restrictions on restaurants, bars, gyms, and movie theaters.

There are no more mask requirements that are enforced by the state.

There are no more social distancing requirements for outdoor or indoor events.

Just typing that out put a smile on my face. It also fills me with this strange array of emotions that I don’t quite know how to articulate. Like so many other fellow Americans, I watched this year-long horror show that was the COVID-19 pandemic unfold before my eyes.

I felt it affect me, my friends, my community, and my family in profound ways. I know people who got the disease. Some of them still don’t have their sense of taste and smell back entirely. I know people who have died from this disease. I also was unable to attend major family events, including a wedding, because of this damned disease.

I could go on, but I won’t. It’s just impossible to overstate how big an impact this disease had on our world. It’s going to leave scars that will last years. It’s going to define an entire generation and beyond. If I ever have kids, I’m going to struggle to explain to them what it was like, navigating this pandemic.

For a time, it felt truly apocalyptic. There was a long stretch last year where my dad and I were constantly making up dates for when things would get back to “normal.” At one point, it was May 15th, 2020. At another, we thought the 4th of July would be the end of it. Then, we started looking towards Labor Day.

At some point, we just came to realize that there was no use hoping anymore. We had no idea when this would end. For all we knew, this pandemic would draw out for years. Even after news about a vaccine emerged, we were still skeptical. A life without COVID-19 restrictions still seemed so far away.

Now, that day has come.

However, the effects are still there.

Recently, I went out to have breakfast with my parents at one of our favorite diners. There were no capacity restrictions. There were no mask requirements either. However, a number of people were still wearing masks, including most of the staff. My parents even wore masks when they first entered, even though they’re both fully vaccinated. I didn’t wear one, but I had one with me, just in case.

To some extent, it was downright jarring, not having to wear a mask. Yes, it was liberating in some ways, but it still felt so unusual after having spent over a year under these restrictions. You almost feel more vulnerable not wearing one, especially in an enclosed space like a crowded diner. I’m sure that’s a feeling we’ll have to get used to again, but it doesn’t change one inescapable truth.

This “normal” that we’ve been waiting for doesn’t feel “normal” to us anymore.

I don’t know if that’s temporary or if that’s something that will linger on for years to come. I know people who have stated outright that they’re going to keep wearing masks, even if the number of COVID-19 cases drops to zero. To them, the mask has become just another part of their lives. The see it like a seatbelt or hand soap. It’s not about avoiding a disease anymore. It’s about staying healthy.

That’s an implication that I don’t know that we’ve collectively processed. I certainly haven’t. I’ve no inclination to throw away my masks. I also have no plans to stop the frequent handwashing that I’ve come to embrace since last March. That does lead me to wonder whether this is truly our new “normal.”

I put that in quotes because, now that the state mandated restrictions are lifted, it’s on us to determine what form that normal takes. Will that mean always wearing a mask in certain settings? Just the other day, I went to the grocery store and I still wore a mask. The signs on the front doors saying they were required were still there. Until they come down, I’ll keep doing so.

At the same time, a part of me feels like I’m still adjusting. I’m almost reluctant to embrace a post-pandemic world because I saw how bad it got last year. Maybe that feeling will fade with time. Maybe within a few months, mask wearing will become a rarity and everyone will be eager to put the memories of the pandemic behind them.

I don’t claim to know what will happen. I just know that it’s going to take a while to get out of this mindset that a year of pandemic restrictions has wrought.

That’s just my experience, though. How do you feel? Have the restrictions in your state been lifted? If so, how have you and your family reacted? Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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Why I’m Still Going To Wear A Mask (For Now)

Australia's about-face on masks and Covid-19: why our health advice was  late to the party | Health | The Guardian

The past few months have been full of objectively great news in terms of ending the COVID-19 pandemic. Given how, at this time last year, the entire world was shutting down and the news kept getting worse with each passing day, I welcome that news. Hell, I’m willing to celebrate it.

It’s now safe to say with a straight face that we’re almost through this once-in-a-century pandemic. The trend line, both in terms of new cases and deaths, is going down. It’s still terrible in some parts of the world, but unlike last year, we have multiple vaccines with which to fight it.

Again, this is a good thing. I got my vaccination and I cannot overstate the relief I felt when it was all said and done. I still take precautions when I go out in public, mostly because there are still some restrictions in place and I understand that not everyone has gotten their vaccine. That includes wearing a mask.

Then, last week, a big announcement from the Centers for Disease Control brought more good news to those who have been vaccinated. Apparently, if we get the vaccine, then there’s no reason to keep wearing a mask. Here’s the story from NPR.

NPR: Fully Vaccinated People Can Stop Wearing Masks Indoors And Outdoors, CDC Says

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that fully vaccinated adults can safely resume activities indoors or outdoors without masks or distancing, in gatherings large or small. The announcement marks a major milestone in the effort to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky announced the new guidance Thursday.

“You can do things you stopped doing because of the pandemic,” Walensky said.

The new policy is based on recent real-world studies from Israel and the U.S. on people who’ve been vaccinated, she said.

Once again, I welcome this news. Like everyone else, I’m sick of having to wear a mask, just to go and get groceries. I also don’t like wearing a mask when I work out. That’s just one other piece of cloth that gets all sweaty and stinky. I’m as eager as everyone else to discard them.

However, despite this welcome news, I’ve already made a choice. I will continue wearing a mask in public, at least for now.

My reason for doing so has nothing to do with my trust in the science. I believe it’s legitimate. This is the Center for Disease Control. They’re not some wannabe guru trying to sell vitamins as a cure all. These brave men and women have been on the front lines since this crisis began. They’ve earned that credibility.

For that same reason, I choose to wear a mask because I understand that not everyone trusts the news and policies that public officials have given. That includes those who refuse to get the vaccine and refuse to wear masks. As a result, these people, who are a sizable chunk of the population, are still vulnerable. They’ll remain vulnerable until the infection rate is at a point where it’s easy to track, treat, and contain.

We’re not quite at that place yet. As of this writing, only about half the population has been vaccinated by at least one of the available vaccines. Just this past week, most clinics and pharmacies in my area started offering walk-in vaccinations without an appointment. That’s a great thing and people now have no excuse not to get one.

However, until that vaccination rate gets to a point where the virus can’t easily spread, I’m still wearing a mask. Even though the vaccine does prevent me from getting ill or showing symptoms, there’s still the possibility of breakthrough infections. While those vaccinated may never feel ill at all, they may still spread it and they could spread it to someone who is not vaccinated.

I do not want to be one of those people.

I do not want to be someone who spreads this terrible disease to someone, even if I never feel sick.

Yes, wearing a mask is uncomfortable and I look forward to discarding them.

No, I’m not willing to risk hurting other people for my own personal comfort.

That’s not just an informed choice. It’s the right thing to do and it’ll get us out of this crisis that much sooner.

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My (Unprofessional) Opinion On The Peloton

I’ve said it before. I was not in good shape for a good chunk of my life. It’s still worth belaboring. It’s hard to overstate how poor my exercise habits were for most of my early adult life. If I hadn’t gotten serious about my health, I might have done some real damage.

That’s why I encourage everyone to make the same effort. Try to get in shape. Try to fit a good workout into your daily or weekly routine. Try to tweak your diet so that it’s healthier. It doesn’t pay off immediately, but you certainly appreciate the results in the long run.

When I say that, I also usually encourage people to avoid fitness and diet fads. A good rule of thumb is that, if you saw it on an infomercial, chances are it’s a gimmick or a scam. There’s just no way around it. At some point, you have to exercise and eat better. It’s just basic physics with respect to body mass, calories, and exertion.

However, there are some fitness trends that can help. When I started working out, everyone was calling Crossfit the greatest revolution in all of fitness. I admit I was tempted to try it. Then, like many others, I saw that it shared a few too many traits with a cult and backed off.

This brings me to the latest fitness craze, the Peloton. Chances are if you know someone who has one, they’ve talked about it. They may even treat it like one of their most prized possessions. It’s not quite on the same level as Crossfit, but its popularity is still worth noting.

Now, before I give my opinion on this latest fitness trend, I need to reiterate that I’m not a personal trainer. I’m not a professional in any way. There are people way more qualitied to give you a more informed opinion about the Peloton and any other fitness routine. This is just me, a guy who stumbled his way to better fitness, offering my perspective.

At its core, the Peloton is an exercise bike with a screen. I know its ardent fans will passionately argue otherwise, but logistically speaking, that’s what it is. It’s an exercise bike. You can find them at almost any gym. I’ve used them before. I still use ellipticals regularly because they’re better for my joints.

What sets Peloton apart is the social aspect of it. When you use it, you don’t just use an exercise bike. You link into a social network, of sorts, that offers a professional level spin class to its users. That social component isn’t just a supplemental feature, either. It’s actually one of the most important components of Peloton.

That screen it includes isn’t just a fancy tablet. It links you to other users and attempts to recreate the experience of being in an actual spin class. That experience does add to the cost, considerably. However, it’s also here where I think Peloton shows its value.

For some people, they don’t need much motivation to work out. They’re able to push themselves to do it. For a while, I certainly needed that motivation to get me out of the house and into a gym. Eventually, it got to a point where I was self-motivated. I don’t need people yelling at me to encourage me to keep pushing myself.

That’s just me, though. Some people are just wired differently. They need that yelling. They need that added bit of competitive drive. That pushes them to push themselves more than they would have on their own. That’s what Peloton can offer without having to hire a personal trainer.

It offers the added incentive of peer pressure, solidarity, and social support. Being the very social species we are, that’s powerful. We may think we’ve done enough exercise for the day, but hearing someone yell at us to do a little more can keep us going. Sometimes, that’s the difference between falling short of your fitness goals and raising the bar.

In that respect, I think Peloton is better than most fitness fads. It takes a familiar exercise machine that people have used for years and adds a social component. It offers something other than just another fancy device. It gets people involved in a community without them having to leave their homes.

Given the situation with the pandemic, I think that component is even more valuable. I still think Peloton, as a whole, is grossly overpriced. However, if you’re someone who struggles to stay motivated to get into shape, it might be worth the investment. Your health is one of the few investments in which you’ll feel the benefits in ways that go beyond your body. It’s not easy and, as Peloton’s price shows, it’s rarely cheap. However, it’s still worth doing and if Peloton helps you, then I say go for it.

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I’m Officially Vaccinated! Please Do The Same

Today, I feel like I’ve just finished running a long marathon over rocky terrain through a snowstorm and with a pack of hungry wolves chasing me. If it sounds like I’m being melodramatic, I make no apologies. I’m just that excited and relieved because, as of this writing, I received my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Having watched with everyone else over the past year as this once-in-a-generation pandemic has ravaged the world, I’ve been anxiously waiting for this moment, like so many others. Most of us know people who have been infected or in some ways impacted by this terrible disease. The only way we’re going to beat it while minimizing further loss of life is through a vaccine.

I’ve covered the news surrounding the development of multiple vaccines for this disease. I’ve also made it very clear that I am not sympathetic to those who cut in line to get their dose or those who try to undermine public health for political or religious reasons. I know there was and still is a lot of drama surrounding vaccines. I’m willing to set that all aside for now.

Getting vaccinated after living through so many upheavals is a great feeling. For those who may be concerned, I can attest that the process is simple and quick. Those involved were kind, diligent, and professional every step of the way. I was in and out within a half-hour. I couldn’t be happier with how the whole operation went down.

Since I’ll still need a second dose, I will have to return. Having seen the dedication and efficiency of those involved, I am perfectly comfortable with that. I also encourage everyone, including those who hate needles, to make the effort to get this vaccine.

Check with your local government.

Talk to your family doctor.

Call up a CVS or local pharmacy.

Use this handy tool that I’ve linked to before.

Whatever steps you have to take, make the effort. You’ll be doing yourself, your neighbors, and your family a huge favor. I’m as sick of this pandemic as everyone else. This vaccine is how we’ll get out of it and get our lives back. Please make the effort. Regardless of your politics, religion, or ideology, get this vaccine.

I got mine and I can attest that it’s a great feeling.

Also, to all the wonderful men and women who helped develop this vaccine and other treatments, I sincerely thank you. You are all the true heroes of this pandemic.

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My Newfound Fondness For My New (Memory Foam) Mattress

There are certain products we should regularly replace or upgrade. Our phones, smoke detectors, toothbrushes, anti-virus production software, and underwear come to mind. Those are obvious and most people don’t need to be reminded of that. There are some products, however, that not everyone upgrades regularly.

It varies from person to person. For me, I certainly prioritize upgrading my phone, my clothes, my passwords, and other essentials. One thing I tend to negate, though, is my mattress. I freely admit that I slept on the same mattress for nearly 15 years before I replaced it. After that, I didn’t even think about replacing it.

That changed recently when I noticed my mattress sagging in the middle. In the past, I would’ve shrugged that off. Then, I started waking up with a stiff neck and in odd positions. The longer I put it off, the worse it got. Since you can’t really work around getting regular sleep, I decided to finally upgrade. I even managed to save some money so that I don’t have to buy something cheap.

That is likely the reason why my old mattress started sagging, by the way. I bought it because it was cheap and not because it was the most comfortable. The old adage of you get what you pay for really applies here. When you start waking up with a stiff neck every other morning, you feel it even more.

This time, I dared to splurge. I had a budget, but it was larger than last time. That meant I could try some of the fancier mattresses, like those that use memory foam. I’ve seen them advertised before. I tend not to believe those fancy adds that claim they’re that revolutionary. I’ll just say that, after lying on a few, I found one that was comfortable and bought it.

I won’t say how much I paid for it. I’ll just say that it was at least double the price of the last mattress I bought. Again, you get what you pay for and after the first few nights on it, I came to appreciate adage even more.

I wasn’t expecting much when I slept on it the first night. I’d have been just happy to wake up without a stiff neck. I might have set the bar low, but that didn’t stop me from appreciating the results.

I love this mattress.

I love how comfortable it is.

I love not waking up feeling stiff or sore.

I don’t want to come off as a shill for a particular brand, so I won’t mention which kind of memory foam mattress it is. I’ll just say that I’m legitimately impressed. I didn’t know sleeping on a decent, non-cheap mattress could feel so good. I might have learned that lesson the hard way to some extent, but I’m glad I learned it. I know the world is a crazy place right now and the economy sucks for a lot of people, but everything about it is only made worse when you don’t get quality sleep. A good mattress won’t fix everything that’s keeping you up at night, but it’ll definitely help. Keep that in mind the next time you’re thinking about which product in your home you’d like to upgrade.

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Vaccine Update: Making Sense Of The (Critical) Data On The Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

Last year did a lot to crush my usually optimistic outlook on the future. I experienced a level of cynicism I haven’t felt since high school, a time when I only ever assumed things would get worse and rarely made an effort to change that. It was bad. Global pandemics have that effect on people.

I still made it a point to note when positive things actually happened, especially when it came to news of the vaccine. That marked the ultimate turning point. A vaccine was always going to be our best weapon in terms of ending the pandemic, regardless of what the anti-vaxx crowd says. The fact that we now have two vaccines at our disposal is genuinely encouraging.

Yes, I know the distribution of these vaccines has been a mess, to say the least.

I also don’t deny that the emergence of new mutant strains of the virus could hinder their effectiveness.

Those are legitimate concerns. We should all be worried about how this will impact our ability to finally end this awful pandemic that has caused so much damage. At the same time, we should also be hopeful. Believe me, I’m trying.

That hope got another boost recently when it was announced that a third vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson had completed its final round of trials. Having a third weapon against this virus can only help. In addition, this one has the advantage of being a one-shot vaccine, as opposed to the two required by Moderna and Pfizer.

While that’s good news for those who hate needles, there is a trade-off. According to the research reported by the media, the vaccine is effective. However, the numbers aren’t quite as promising as what we got with the first two. This is what CNN reported.

CNN: Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine is 66% effective in global trial, but 85% effective against severe disease, company says

Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 single-shot vaccine was shown to be 66% effective in preventing moderate and severe disease in a global Phase 3 trial, but 85% effective against severe disease, the company announced Friday.

The vaccine was 72% effective against moderate and severe disease in the US, the company said.

It’s a striking difference from vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, and it may give pause to people uncertain about which vaccine to get or when they can get one. The vaccines already on the market in the US are about 95% effective overall against symptomatic Covid-19, with perhaps even higher efficacy against severe cases.

But experts say the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will still be useful against the pandemic in the United States and around the world.

I know the numbers are the only thing that stands out in this piece. That seems to be the main sticking point for most reports about this virus.

Those numbers are still good. The 66% may not be as promising as the 90% promised by the other two, but that’s still more effective than a standard flu vaccine. On top of that, being a one-shot vaccine that can be easily stored in a typical refrigerator will help even more. It means more of this vaccine can get to people, especially in places with less-than-ideal health infrastructure.

This will definitely help in terms of ending or at least mitigating this pandemic. However, there’s one other critical point of data that’s worth highlighting with this vaccine. It’s in some of the reports, but it’s often difficult to discern, mostly because the media’s track record with reporting science is not that great.

For this vaccine, it’s boils down to certain degrees within the data. It’s true the Johnson & Johnson vaccine won’t give you the same protection you’d get from the other two. There’s a good chance that, even after getting this vaccine, you could still become very sick with COVID-19. However, and this is the key, it will help ensure that you don’t become severely ill and die.

That’s not just a sales pitch. According to the research, there were no hospitalizations or deaths among people in the vaccine arm. That may mean some did get sick. Some might have even spread it. However, they didn’t get so sick that they ended up in the hospital. They all survived.

To me, at least, that’s the most important result. Getting sick is one thing. Getting so sick that you die in a hospital bed is something else entirely. One is a bad flu. The other is debilitating illness. That alone makes this vaccine a critical tool in the effort to end this pandemic.

I admit that if I had a choice between the three, I would choose Moderna or Pfizer. I actually know someone who got the Pfizer vaccine and their experience gives me great assurance that it works as intended.

However, if those two were not available and all I could get was the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, I’d take it in a heartbeat. It could mean the difference between being sick and being deathly ill. In a pandemic, that’s the only difference that matters. To all the doctors, nurses, participants, and health care workers who were part of this effort, I sincerely thank you. A lot of lives will be saved because of this vaccine. That makes you true heroes in a world that badly needs them.

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Sir Reddit: Stories Of When Sleeping Naked Backfires

As someone who has been sleeping naked since college, I am a strong advocate for the practice. If you haven’t tried it yet, even in the middle of winter, I highly recommend it. You may be surprised by how great it feels.

That said, there are some potential drawbacks and I’m not talking about general health. Sometimes, the simple act of sleeping in the buff goes wrong. It’s usually situational and it’s usually due to forces beyond anyone’s control. When it happens, it’s still mortifying at best.

I’ve been lucky enough to have not experienced that situation yet, but not everyone has been that lucky. Below is a video inspired by a Reddit post of people sharing their stories about when sleeping naked backfired, courtesy of the SirReddit YouTube Channel.

I wanted to share it, just to help balance out my vocal advocacy of sleeping naked. I still recommend it, but these are just some of the situations that can result from doing so. Enjoy!

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Small Silver Linings: The Pandemic Is Killing The Flu

Things are pretty awful right now. Let’s not underscore that.

A global pandemic is still raging and world is in turmoil because of it. Even with multiple vaccines available, we’ve still got a long way to go before we can honestly say it’s over.

As bad as that is, it’s still important to find some silver linings. You don’t want to undermine how bad things are, but you also want to embrace whatever positives you can. Even if they don’t warrant the suffering, they can help us process the overall impact.

To that end, I want to highlight something that’s easy to overlook in the midst of a raging pandemic. This disease we’re fighting is awful. It’s killing way too many people and our efforts to stop it have been mixed, at best. However, those efforts have brought other indirect benefits.

One of them has to do with the seasonal flu. Every year, it seems, some nasty bug seems to go around in certain areas. I’ve certainly experienced it. I’ve endured the flu before and most people agree. It’s not fun. It’s an experience we can all do without.

Now, due to the efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the flu has been effectively kneecapped this season. According to some recent data from the Center for Disease Control, this has been the mildest flu season in years.

CDC: Decreased Influenza Activity During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Following widespread adoption of community mitigation measures to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, the percentage of U.S. respiratory specimens submitted for influenza testing that tested positive decreased from >20% to 2.3% and has remained at historically low interseasonal levels (0.2% versus 1–2%). Data from Southern Hemisphere countries also indicate little influenza activity.

Again, and it’s worth belaboring, this silver lining does not make up for all the terrible things the COVID-19 pandemic has incurred. An overall decline in flu cases hardly makes up for all the suffering we’ve endured in this pandemic.

At the very least, it shows that there’s real merit in embracing these public safety measures. There’s real benefit to regularly washing your hands, wearing a mask, and not congregating in cramped, unsanitary conditions.

It has certainly changed how I look at public health. In the past, I’ve actually been sick and gone to class or work. I tried to endure the illness, not understanding just how much it affected others around me. This pandemic has changed that.

Now, when I’m sick, I’m making damn sure I stay home. I’m also washing my hands a lot more regularly and thoroughly. I imagine I’m not alone in that sentiment. These are all hard lessons that we’ve all paid a terrible price to learn. At the same time, we have that much more reason to endure and overcome this awful pandemic. Beyond simply beating this dreaded disease, emerging in a world where the flu is lesson common is definitely a more appealing world overall.

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Appreciating Dr. Maurice Hilleman: The Man Who Saved Millions Of Lives (With Vaccines)

As someone who regularly consumes superhero media of all kinds, I try to appreciate the real heroes in the real world who regularly save countless lives. Most carry themselves without superpowers, flashy costumes, or charisma on par with Robert Downy Jr. or Christopher Reeves. They just do the work that needs doing to help people who will never know their name.

A couple years ago, I made a tribute to Dr. Norman Borlaug, the famed agricultural scientist who helped usher in an agricultural revolution. This man, who most have never heard of, has saved millions of lives by helping the world produce more food, reduce famine, and combat world hunger. The amount of good this man has done for the world cannot be overstated.

In that same spirit, I’d like to highlight another individual who I doubt most people have heard of. He’s another doctor who, through his work, has helped save millions of lives, many of them children. It’s because of this man that millions of children born today don’t become ill with diseases that had ravaged humanity for generations.

That man is Dr. Maurice Hilleman. While his notoriety is not on the same level as Dr. Borlaug, I have a feeling his profile will rise considerably after the events of 2020. That’s because Dr. Hilleman currently holds the record for developing the most vaccines of any doctor in history.

In total, he helped develop more than 40.

Of those vaccines, 8 are still routinely recommended by doctors today. They combat terrible diseases like measles, mumps, Hepatitis, and chicken pox.

It’s a level of productivity that is unparalleled today. As a result of these vaccines, approximately 8 million lives are saved every year. Even though he died in 2005, he continues to save lives with each passing year through his work. Like Dr. Borlaug, his heroism only compounds with time. Even Tony Stark can’t boast that.

Most people alive today don’t realize just how bad it was before these vaccines were developed. Many diseases, some of which you’ve probably never heard of, were rampant. Before Dr. Hilleman helped develop the vaccine, measles alone infected between 3 and 4 million people every year in the United states, killing at between 400 and 500 at a time.

Children and the elderly were especially vulnerable. It was once just a fact of life that these diseases would come around and kill a sizable number of children. It was as unavoidable as bad weather.

Take a moment to imagine life in those conditions. One day, you or your children would just get sick and there was nothing you could do to prevent it. That was life before these remarkable advances came along.

That’s why when people say that nothing has saved more lives than vaccines, they’re not peddling propaganda. They’re just sharing the results of basic math. It’s because of men like Dr. Maurice Hilleman that these numbers are what they are. However, his name is not well-known, even in a field that has become more prominent.

Most people know who Edward Jenner is and appreciate how many lives he saved by combating Smallpox.

Most people know who Jonas Salk is and appreciate how many people he helped by developing a polio vaccine.

Now, what these men did was remarkable. They certainly deserve the praise and admiration they receive for developing their respective vaccines. However, Dr. Maurice Hilleman still deserves to be in that same echelon. For the number of vaccines he helped develop and the legacy he left, he certainly put in the work and accomplished a great deal.

The diseases Dr. Hilleman battled might not have been as high-profile as Smallpox or polio, but they were every bit as damaging. That makes it all the more frustrating to see efforts like the anti-vaxx movement take hold, which has led to resurgences of diseases like measles in certain communities. That is not the direction we should be going right now.

In the midst of a historic pandemic, the importance of medical science and those who work in it has never been more critical. This might be the best possible time to acknowledge the work of men like Dr. Hilleman. Even after this pandemic has passed, we should all appreciate work like his even more.

None of us have superpowers like Spider-Man or Superman.

Most of us will never be as rich, smart, or resourceful as Iron Man or Batman.

Dr. Hilleman had none of this. Just like Dr. Borlaug, he came from a poor family. At one point, he didn’t have enough money for college. He still persevered and he still managed to do the work that went onto save millions of lives. It might not be a hero’s story on par with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it’s still a special kind of heroism.

So, on this day as we anxiously wait for this pandemic to end, take a moment to appreciate the work of Dr. Maurice Hilleman. It’s because of him that such pandemics are so rare. It’s also because of him that this current pandemic won’t take nearly as many lives as it could’ve.

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