To our patients and colleagues,

In this newsletter, Dr. Jick offers his opinions about whether or not to have a COVID vaccine when it's available and how to go about making the decision for yourself.
There has been a lot of media attention and discussion about the COVID vaccines. Since there has also been so much misinformation and confusion, I wanted to share with you my own personal views about the vaccine, including my responses to some of the concerns people have and my advice about whether people should take the vaccine.

The first COVID vaccine to arrive was the Pfizer version, an mRNA-based vaccine. All six physicians here at Fair Oaks Women’s Health have received their first dose of this vaccine and are scheduled for their second dose soon. All the doctors in our practice trust the safety and efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine (and the Moderna vaccine as well). We are potentially exposed to COVID every day, and for each of us the issue came down to answering one question: “Which risk do we choose -- the risk of COVID or the risk of the vaccine?” It is my view that for most people, not just healthcare professionals, the risk of COVID (including the risk to yourself and others) outweighs the risk of getting the vaccine.

What reasons might someone have for not getting a COVID vaccine? Here are a few:

Reason #1: The vaccine is not safe.
Dr. Jick’s Response: Define safe. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has deemed the vaccines safe. So has the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC). President-Elect Biden has had the vaccine. The U.S. Surgeon General has had the vaccine. All the physicians in our group have had the vaccine. If you feel the vaccine is not safe, my question is this – what other person or group needs to tell you the vaccine is safe before you would agree?

Reason #2: The vaccine might cause long-term complications.
Dr. Jick’s Response: This is possible, but it can take years before those are known. There are dozens of vaccines in use for many years that have been proven safe from long-term risks. There is every reason to believe the same will occur with the COVID vaccine. But people are getting sick from COVID now, they are giving it to others now and they are dying, in record numbers, now. The vaccine will help reduce the number of cases and will reduce the number of deaths NOW. The risk of long-term side effects is remote but possible, but this is not a valid reason for declining the vaccine.

Reason #3: The vaccine has side effects.
Dr. Jick’s Response: This is true for some, but these are definitely not worse than the effects of getting COVID, or the risk of transmitting COVID to a loved one. None of the physicians in our group had side effects after the first dose except maybe a sore arm for a day or so.

Reason #4: Herd Immunity will protect me, so I do not need the vaccine.
Dr. Jick’s Response: Maybe. Herd immunity can provide protection but at least 80 to 90% of the population needs to be recovered from COVID or vaccinated to provide this type of protection. Herd immunity means that so many people around you are already immune that the chance for the vaccine to spread is very low. Given the number of people refusing the vaccine, you should not count on herd immunity for protection.

Reason #5: You can get COVID from the vaccine.
Dr. Jick’s Response: Absolutely NOT TRUE. There is no live COVID virus in any of the COVID vaccines. Some of the vaccines use a deactivated cold virus to deliver the COVID antigens into the cells so that the body’s immune system will activate, but there is no way to get COVID from those.

There is abundant misinformation.
But wait, there’s more! The amount and sheer outrageousness of some of the vaccine misinformation is staggering. Here are some of the crazier supposed risks/rumors of the vaccines, all of which have already been proven false:
  • The vaccine contains a microchip produced by Bill Gates.
  • The vaccine causes infertility.
  • The vaccine will allow the government to mind control us.
  • The vaccine profits are all going to Dr Fauci (or George Soros or China)

Get the Vaccine – the risks of COVID far outweigh the risks of the vaccines.
Ultimately, there is no risk-free option going forwards. COVID is never going away. That might be hard to accept given its recent appearance, but it’s true. Measles, Whooping Cough and Chicken Pox (all viral illnesses) have been around for generations and will likely never go away. The only reason we do not see hundreds of thousands of illnesses and deaths from these dangerous and highly communicable diseases is that the majority of people in the US have been vaccinated for them, almost all as children, with boosters for adults. COVID is the same, it is just newer, and none of us have immunity to it. Due to the unusual nature of COVID, every living human being can potentially get this illness. The only way to be safe from a COVID infection is to be vaccinated or to have recovered from the illness.

We do not have all the answers yet.
Experts do disagree on how long your immunity lasts after a COVID vaccine or after recovering from a COVID infection and also on whether or not someone who has had COVID can get it again. I believe that once more studies have been done, we will determine that immunity to COVID is likely to last for many years (a whooping cough vaccine booster is advised every 10 years for example) and that it will be rare to see people who had the infection get it again. (Mutations are another issue, too complex for this article.)

Just answer this one question.
In the end, each of us needs to answer one question: “Which risk do we choose -- the risk of COVID or the risk of the vaccine?” There is no risk-free option available. All the physicians here at Fair Oaks Women's Health have chosen to have the vaccine. We hope you will also and at the first available opportunity.

In the meantime, please stay safe and follow all COVID precautions. The number of cases per day is high and the hospitals are still full. Do everything you can to avoid getting exposed. Be well.

At FOWH, all medical assistants and providers will now wear face shields or goggles, in addition to masks, inside of the exam rooms until the number of COVID cases starts to significantly decrease.

We are using 2-way radios for the hallway monitor to be in constant communication with the inner office staff to minimize as much as possible the number of people in the waiting room.

If you have an annual exam (well-woman) visit scheduled soon, we ask that you consider calling us and postponing this visit for a few months. We do not plan to cancel appointments but we would like our patients to decide if they can delay this visit. If you call us to book an annual exam, we will ask you if you can delay the appt. for a few months.
  1. No visitors inside the office (for exceptions, such as limited mobility, please let us know ahead of time). You may FaceTime or audio connect a guest during your medical exams as you wish. This also applies to prenatal exams and ultrasounds. Ultrasound video screens may not be recorded, per national guidelines.
  2. Prior to your appt. all patients should have received a text message requesting them to wait in their car after arrival. A second text will be sent when we are ready for you to come to the office.
  3. Once you come to the office, everyone must use our main entrance. This applies to all FOWH patients, Pasadena Pellet patients and staff.
  4. Temperature screening takes place. Anyone with a temp above 99.8 or symptoms of possible COVID-19 will have to wait outside until a provider can assess the situation.
  5. COVID SCREENING FORM: You will be presented with a written form to review and sign. Yes answers will require evaluation by a provider.
  6. Hand sanitizer is available at the front door.
  7. All patients (and staff) must wear a mask at all times while in the office. Patients need to bring their own masks.
  8. The number of patients allowed in the waiting rooms will be kept as low as possible to help maintain social distancing.
  9. Back office staff and Providers will be wearing face shields or goggles in the exam rooms.
  10. The waiting room and Primex lab are closed from 12:00 to 1:30 pm.
  11. Sneeze guards have been placed at the check-in and check-out desks. Please try to remain behind them as you talk to the staff.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.