The recent COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the chain of the writer inside me and I can’t stay silent anymore.
I had taken a step back from posting on this blog since last fall. This was for several reasons: the busy viral respiratory season, taking the lead physician role in my clinic, and my kids’ needing help with homework. But there was one other reason: I was cyber-attacked for speaking up about another threat to global public health: vaccine refusal.
Speaking up is, I feel, part of my Hippocratic Oath as a physician. I have a responsibility to not only do the right thing for patients but also educate the public about health dangers, among them, vaccine refusal. Hence, this blog, and my professional Facebook page. Last fall I wrote a post to warn my parents of local cases of a vaccine-preventable disease, and encouraged them to make sure their children were protected. Soon my post become overrun by lay persons attempting to spread false claims and bad science.
People from Ohio, Florida, and Washington started leaving negative reviews about me and my clinic on the internet, even though they were obviously not patients and had never met me. They were intent on making the world finally know that I inject “toxins” into my patients, that I treat patients without parents’ consent, and that my blog and other attempts to educate the public were “marketing” and “propaganda” and “lies”.
Similar attacks have happened to other physicians across the country who are willing to speak up for the good and health of our country. Like many of them, I donate this extra time beyond my usual clinical duties to educate my parents, because as a pediatrician, that’s what I do and I am passionate about it. I don’t make money off this blog and never will. There is no advertising, no ulterior motive. It’s what I signed up for when I looked in the mirror and asked myself what I want to do with my life.
Now this country that I love is facing a pandemic. My parents are worried, and many of them are at risk. I care about my patients and my community. And I believe I can make a difference by raising my voice and being a leader at this time. I’ve heard so many fears, misconceptions, and bad advice from patients, parents, neighbors, friends, and both the media and our national leadership alike. We all have so many questions. I can’t stay silent and not lend a helping hand by spreading sound information as far as I understand it.
Around the country so many brave physicians and other healthcare workers (especially nurses and respiratory therapists) are putting themselves in the line of fire in order to help us get through these times. I’m not going to lie. Sometimes I am scared as hell. But I also have hope and faith in science and reason as vehicles to get us to the truth of how to best protect ourselves and our loved ones. And in the teamwork and compassion of humans working throughout our healthcare system and public administration. And in a Higher Power that inspires us and moves us to do great things for the good of other humans.
I may not be working in an ICU (as of yet), but by writing this blog, I can work for the greater good even if it means putting myself in the line of fire from those who don’t agree with me. But I will not let that keep me from doing my job.
And so, not only in spite of, but because of, on-line detractors, and in spite of and because of this pandemic, my colleagues and I keep writing. In the coming days I will be attempting to post as often as I can about COVID-19 and related issues. I will continue to put out content on general children’s health as well. Many of these topics will become even more relevant than they were before because, as I suspect, this pandemic has the potential to effect every aspect of life and health.
These are unusual times, but I will be here getting through it with you.