COVID-19 – vaccines, mandates and the Flu, oh my!

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This post is three-fold:

  1. To answer common COVID-19 / vaccine mandate questions
  2. To address the upcoming flu season
  3. To update my active patient list (see bottom of email)

Common COVID-19 vaccine questions

Firstly, as you may be aware, we are about one and a half years into a global pandemic. Our local, state and federal governments have dealt with the public health aspect in myriad ways.

Regardless of partisanship, as a health provider, I have recently come into a position where I am seeing some of my patients face the prospect of losing their livelihood due to recent governmental pressures.

To be clear, my stance is neutral on the vaccination issue, as it has always been. My goal is to give YOU, as my patient, the most current and accurate information so that you can then act accordingly in your best interest in regards to your health.

That has been for me primarily giving you general wellness/ immune support guidance AND either supporting you with protocols to reduce risk of adverse vaccine effects, or helping you through a COVID-19 infection (or both!) following naturopathic philosophy.

Over the last few months I have fielded many anxious phone calls and visits, so I figured I would provide you with the information I have so far (current as of 9-13-2021).

Q: I already had COVID-19, do I need to vaccinate?

A: The current understanding is that the vaccine would give you wider protection in tandem with antibodies from a natural infection. CAVEAT: it is recommended that there be a 6 months waiting period from natural infection to 1 shot of an mRNA vaccine. The most current study shows that unvaccinated folks who have had a previous infection are 2.3 x more likely to RE-contract COVID than fully vaccinated individuals, while an Israel study showed natural infections to be more protective. Why the discrepancy? I can only speculate, that even having had the infection, the immune response may not have been robust enough to be protective for a re-infection (this is true for vaccines as well). While there are antibody tests available, we do not yet have data that tells us what LEVEL of antibody is protective towards re-infection.

Q: Does the mandate apply to me?

A: Depends on your employer or school you attend.

Your options if you feel COVID-19 vaccination would be detrimental to your well-being are: philosophical exception, or medical exception.

Medical exceptions are VERY SPECIFIC, and one would need to demonstrate previous adverse effect to a similar vaccine or allergy to the specific components of said vaccines.

Philosophical / religious exemptions can also be filed. Currently there are non medical COVID-19 vaccine EXCEPTIONforms separate from the other vaccine exemptions.

EXCEPTIONS seem to be different than EXEMPTIONS (I’m not a lawyer, so take this with a grain of salt) in that the employer or organization does NOT have to agree to giving it to the person requesting it if accepting the request places an undue hardship on the business or organization. EXEMPTIONS as I have understood it from my personal experience, just means you are willing to quarantine if there is an outbreak of a communicable disease if you are not vaccinated. In the case of COVID, I imagine that exemptions are not plausible because we are in a pandemic.

For more information: see this article.

Q: Does Dr. Zia write medical exceptions?

A: The answer varies depending on your situation. There are guidelines that need to be met in order to qualify for a medical exception for a COVID-19 vaccine. If I do not have the medical records or appropriate medical reasons, I cannot write a medical exception for you. (See previous answer for information on religious or philosophical exceptions.

Q: What about masks, do I need to keep wearing masks and following social distancing?

A: Having experienced 18+ months of this pandemic, I strongly encourage those who are in public enclosed spaces to wear a mask (unless medically contraindicated) to reduce the risk of COVID-19 TRANSMISSION REGARDLESS OF PRIOR VACCINATION OR NATURAL INFECTION STATUS.

From my observations, cases here in Oregon rose dramatically once the mask and physical distancing restrictions were lowered in July. I speculate that because the public let it’s guard down, started going to large gatherings, stopped basic hygienic protocols and removed masks in public, enclosed spaces, that the Delta variant quickly took hold, and cases (and hospitalizations, proportionally) increased dramatically. We continue to be in a pandemic; therefore, the only thing that makes sense is to continue taking common sense precautions until, as a population we learn to live with COVID-19 as a common virus. This situation is far from finished, and it will take that much longer if we continue to flaunt basic transmission-reducing steps that kept Oregon with fairly low case numbers in 2020.

Q: Covid-19 is like a regular cold or flu, isn’t it?

A: No. With the current “delta variant” this particular virus is quite adept at spreading. Each time it infects and replicates, it increases the likelihood that it will mutate. The mutation may or may not be significant – but if it keeps having opportunity to mutate – chances become greater that the mutation will have some significance. COVID-19 can be mild, or even without symptoms; however, it can also leave permanent damage to your lungs, your kidneys, heart and nervous system. In my opinion, that is a high gamble to take. I recommend treating this infection with common sense and seriousness. While you or I may have the privilege of treating naturopathically, a majority of the population does not have this option available. It is important to be mindful of how we handle this illness and how it can affect those with whom we come into contact.

Q: Does Dr. Zia treat COVID-19 infections?

A: Yes. Dr. Zia does have treatments available – some of the recommendations are fairly general as with most viral illnesses; however, as with all naturopathic medicine, some remedies or formulas are best tailored to suit each person’s symptoms. It is always best to contact her for a telehealth appointment as soon as you are aware you have contracted the infection.

Note: there is not a COVID-19 CURE, remember that naturopathic medicine treats the PERSON as a whole, rather than a disease.

Q: Does Dr. Zia test for COVID-19 at the office?

A: No, Dr. Zia does not perform PCR or rapid tests for COVID-19; however, she can send an order for a PCR test to your preferred lab.

Please send Dr. Zia other general questions you might have and I will provide another Q&A newsletter at info@nemhealth.com

What about the FLU season?

This flu season may be a bit tricky – nastier than last year’s most likely simply for a few reasons:

a. Many folks have had to deal with COVID in the past 3-4 months – their immune systems may be somewhat taxed.

b. The general atmosphere of fear and anxiety tends to lower our immune defenses. Now more than ever, take the time to find Grace throughout your day. Practice kindness, and find joy in the little things in life. REALLY stop and smell the flowers.

c. There is confusion about whether it’s a good idea to vaccinate for the flu shot. As with any vaccine, please make sure that you are not ALREADY fighting an infection. This will create a poor vaccine response AND slow down your healing process from the active infection.

d. Since you are getting this e-mail, if you need guidance as to diet, lifestyle and other interventions to mitigate the flu season, please reach out!

Now for the updating of lists:

If you would like to INACTIVATE your patient chart, please email (click on link) with INACTIVATE as your subject heading.

Thank you!

In health,

Dr. Zia L. Robles Hernandez

Natural Elements Medicine