Flirting with Disaster

Let’s go back in time to the beginnings of the anti-GMO movement some 10 years ago. Remember when people came out of the woodwork to the Hawaii State Legislature claiming that politicians needed to protect the public against GMOs? It all started with a manipulation of the public by using fake news and fear that sounds all too familiar.

So many were fooled into believing that sites like Green Med Info, GMO Justice Coalition, Center for Food Safety, were all posing as legitimate information prveyors to the unsuspecting masses. The public would call legislators demanding that protections were needed in the form of labeling and banning. Forget the fact that trillions of meals were consumed with little evidence of harm, the anti-GMO activists were determined to get their way ignoring all of the evidence while creating lots of fake “evidence.”

Not only did the activists use fake news and fake sites to manipulate but they also casted a large cloud of doubt upon the regulatory agencies like the FDA and EPA. The public was told that the government agencies that regulated biotech products were not trustworthy without even knowing the process at all. People were led to believe that they were involved in some devious collusion. No activist ever bothered to teach people how the agencies approve products but closed the door by simply saying don’t trust them.

Opportunistic politicians decided to jump on board to this movement to ignore the scientific evidence too to seize upon popular opinion. They wanted to show the public that they were there to protect them. These supposed leaders fueled doubt within the very government that they were in charge of. The message basically was that, “I help run the government that you cannot trust.”

The activists and the politicians were successful in creating global furor that block innovations in its tracks. For years the media was complicit in fueling the rejection of scientific evidence. Poorly vetted stories and pseudoexperts like the Food Babe and Dr. Oz were placed in the spotlight feeding unfounded claims to a poorly educated audience.

So where has that led to after all of these years? We have lost some 435,000 Americans in this pandemic with 25 million cases. We have a deeply divided society with mass confusion as to what we should believe. It doesn’t appear to be getting any better given the latest news of new mutant viruses being found.

It should be of no surprise that a recent Star Advertiser poll found that only 50% plan on taking the covid vaccines. This should not be a shocker given the anti-vaccine campaigns that lead to a resurgence of measles globally and domestically also. It is becoming clearer that rejecting the scientific evidence comes with many unintended consequences.

Let’s think back to how things could’ve been different had we got a good handle on using evidence to base our policies upon. If the political leadership had weighed the facts to decide if labeling was truly needed, we’d probably have more faith in the regulatory agencies. When the politicians decided to create doubt, that sane doubt has remained through this pandemic. Few trust the CDC and FDA or even our own Department of Health at a time where we need to have centralized information being put forth.

Had we stopped giving anti-vaccine activists a stage at political forums, we may have less hesitancy with vaccines and less fear. The politicians gave them the stage to sputter fear and factless claims over and over again. The public was listening and started to believe that the shot is worse than the effects of COVID, which is absurd to me as a healthcare worker.

A poorly educated public, access to a wide array of websites, distrust in government, and too many not using critical thinking skills have led us down this deadly path in this pandemic. People are dying and some still refuse to wear a mask. We even have very selfish-minded people claiming that “my body, my choice” is better than taking a vaccine to protect others in the community. Our own Department of Education Superintendent Kishimoto is repeating that same anti-vaccination sentiment to the public, despite the fact that all public school kids must be vaccinated before attending class. The leadership is still not much more educated than the general public right now. Herein lies a problem.

As an elected leader, it is of utmost importance to lead with facts. By following the science, we can hopefully come to a point of agreement of the direction we must choose. If one uses deceit while knowing the truth, the public will pay for the consequences eventually. I so appreciate that my State Senator, Jarrett Keohokalohe, has helped my community get vaccinated by sharing information on the clinic that started this week. The message that sends to the public is a vaccination is just one step towards ending this pandemic. I have not once heard him state something contrary to the scientific evidence or repeat catchy phrases used by the science polluters. He is leading and informing the masses.

As I sat at the Windward Comprehensive Vaccination clinic this past week getting my 90 year old neighbor vaccinated, I got a bit teary eyed seeing so many seniors in my community getting their first shots. My neighbor joked that the entire Kaneohe community was there that day. I also overheard many of them saying they choose to get the shot to protect the rest of their family and loved ones. Yes, their body, their choice to protect others. These folks were listening to the scientific evidence and acting upon it.

There were no protesters around trying to deter people from doing this. It was my community willing doing their part to protect everyone around them. We were together to help save lives and follow the evidence towards a greater good.

We are living during a pandemic and that is why we must choose SCIENCE now!

The line to check in.
The waiting area was filled with vaccinated seniors.
My dad got his first vaccination from the Windward Health Comprehensive Clinic too.
Right after I took my neighbor for her shot, I received my second Pfizer dose.

My Body, My Choice Part 2

Today I received my second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at 2:10 pm HST.

1/26/21 7:20 pm

My arm is a bit achy and heavy feeling. My appetite is a bit down from feeling a little bit tired. It might just be from running around to get my neighbor vaccinated and going to the market. No fevers.

8 hours since receiving the second dose:

No fever but nausea and headache. Arm is sore. Feeling a bit wiped out. Took 2 extra strength Tylenols with some relief in arm pain.

I know this is nothing compared to a full blown COVID infection.

20 hours post second dose:

Tylenol is working. No arm pain and nausea is gone. Feel a bit tired but not bad that I can’t work.

26 hours post Pfizer covid vaccine:

No more nausea. Mild arm ache with movement at the shoulder. Feeling some fatigue this afternoon. Still no appetite but I forced myself to eat a little.

56 hours post dose 2 of Pfizer:

No more nausea and appetite is back. Arm is only sore with movement. Fatigue is very mild.

Vaccinated!

Like so many others in healthcare, I have been patiently waiting to get vaccinated against COVID-19. I had no doubt in my mind to pass this opportunity by. We are in the midst of a pandemic where over 350,000 lives have been lost. That is a heartbreaking number to realize the amount of human loss in less than a year.

I have been advocating for science for a very long time and I will not stop. Science is a process to help us figure out things and solve problems. It is how we are going to get out of this pandemic and get life back to normal.

To help alleviate fear or hesitancy around this vaccine, I will be sharing my experience following my injection to be open and transparent about what effects I get from it.

I was fortunate to get an appointment the very next day I called at my local Kaiser Clinic. I am thrilled to be able to get this but also sad knowing how many never had a chance against this disease. I got my shot at 2:11 pm and did the 15 min wait with only tenderness at the site. I will be blogging more on this post as things happen or not.

1/5/21 6:14 pm

It has been 4 hours since I had my shot and my left arm is achy but no other issues. I’m still reveling in the fact that I was able to take it.

1/6/21 7:00 am

Woke up feeling like my arm could not work. Had left shoulder pain and could not lift arm over my head. No fever or fatigue. Just an achy arm.

1/6/21 5:27 pm

It has been over 24 hours since I received the short. My arm hurts a lot less than this morning but I have started getting some mild headaches.

1/7/21

Arm pain is present but mild allowing me to use it. Still having mild headaches and some fatigue.

1/8/21

No arm pain and headaches. Fatigue is resolved. Back to normal!

My experience pretty much reflects the data collected during the trials. I did not have a fabulous story to tell on my vaccination experience.

New Year Thoughts

2020 was a huge year of change for many of us. Life went completely upside down for me and my family. It didn’t mean all bad but it meant a huge refocusing.

At the start of the pandemic, I was working at my job of 11 years. Because of the fear of being in a nursing home started to grow, my hours there meant going to multiple facilities to gain more hours. I had the unfortunate luck of being at a facility with a positive worker that sparked change for me. I landed up deciding to get out of skilled nursing facilities and go into home care.

As my work in the nursing home declined, my home health worked increased and I saw the firsthand effects of COVID. It was heartbreaking to see what this terrible virus could inflict upon people. I saw folks who led active lives completely debilitated by this pathogen in a matter of days. It was eye opening to see how life can change in a blink of an eye.

Seeing this reaffirmed my support for science. When we have a problem, we need the scientific process to determine how we will navigate through it. There was really no other way to address this but with science, however the damage has been done over the years by the social media and poor reporting by the news.

Right on cue, politics got in the way of getting a good grasp on what the next steps would be and lots of confusion flooded the media as a result. The US is now paying for the effects this with rising infections and overburdened hospitals. As the vaccine is being rolled out, getting it out to people is now another challenge ahead with many fearing the solution because of hesitancy.

The latest word on the news is that the vaccination campaigns will take at least 10 years at the rate we are heading. Will that mean 10 years of mask wearing and social distancing? It might if we do not get a real handle on the cost of disinformation.

The very source of disinformation platforms like Facebook and Twitter are only now cracking down on false information. They were the source of bad information for over a decade and we now see the need to stop this from continuing. Too many said that fake news was not a big deal only to realize now how deadly it is.

I just received word that I have the privilege to get the COVID vaccine and I and getting it as soon as I can as a health care worker. It is my duty to protect my patients in the community and in facilities. Do I fear the potential side effects of this mRNA vaccine? No. I prefer not to be a guinea pig to COVID.

In this New Year, I hope more people open their eyes to the amazing possibilities that science can do for our lives. That’s all we’ve got to solve the problem in front of us. Time to science the crap out of this pandemic.