This time of year is important for many reasons. Not only due to the holidays but also the start of the new year. Many will reflect on the past, as well as the future and many will do so through the prism of faith.
Faith can mean different things to different people. For many, it is religious, but not for all. People will cling to what they need to get through these trying times. Hopefully, most of us put our faith into systems and institutions that bring positivity to our lives and our families and avoid negative ones that are all too common today and only bring misery and sadness.
I have chosen to put my faith in medicine and science.
Old fashioned? Maybe.
It is sad that medicine and science have been politicized to the extreme on top of the fact that both must fight the juggernaut that is misinformation on social media. However, faith is defined as complete trust or confidence in someone or something and I have not lost mine in medicine or science. As proof, I received the Pfizer COVID 19 vaccine last week. I did so for numerous reasons, though they all come down to faith. This is not a blind faith, mind you, but a faith based on what I have witnessed with my own eyes over my 20 years in the medical field, going back to medical school. There, we learned of medicines failures (negatives) as well as its triumphs (positives).
It is called the ‘practice’ of medicine for a reason, and although there are stains, the overall picture is one of great progress and understanding of the human body and its many maladies. I have seen this progress with my own eyes, though more to the point, it is what I have not seen that is most important. I have not seen the scourges of polio, measles, or rubella in newborns to name a few. I have happily lost my skills in performing spinal taps on children to rule out meningitis and intubating those with epiglottitis, all thanks to vaccines. I have also not seen the supposed side effects that these same vaccines are claimed to cause, and I look forward to no longer hearing about certain cancers as I have faithfully vaccinated many to save them and their families from these horrifying diagnoses.
Why do I tell you all this? Because I want you to share my faith.
I want all of you to, not set aside your concerns and questions, but ask them and believe the answers you are given by the people you hopefully trust to answer them – your doctors. I am not without my own fears about these new vaccines and new technologies, but so were those in the last century that still lined up to get their children the polio vaccine and continue to do so in many places on earth that are still ravaged by these diseases. It is this faith that allowed us to conquer these vaccine-preventable diseases and will hopefully do so again with COVID. Faith implores us to stay positive through the darkest of times, of which 2020 certainly qualifies.
I therefore choose to believe that these new vaccines will work, as they have been shown to work, and will get us through this pandemic and make 2021 and beyond extraordinary. I choose to be vaccinated to protect myself, my family, and my community. I choose to vaccinate to show my kids that they need not be afraid when it is their turn. I choose to vaccinate to reassure my patients and their parents that doing so is safe, vital and the right thing to do, because they have put their faith in me. And I take that faith very seriously.
I hope that all of you choose to do the right thing as well. We must keep the faith that tomorrow will be better.
David Levine MD
Scotch Plains, NJ