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Self-Protection as part of Better Health for Self

Health Care 07 Oct, 2022 Follow News

Self-Protection as part of Better Health for Self

By Andrew Vincent MBA DipM
Director, Integra Healthcare Ltd

Is it the State’s responsibility to protect our health, or our own? Of course, that’s a black and white question when the answer involves every shade of grey. And because the answer is grey, we can pretty much choose our answer… and we do. In reality, nobody is going to value us as individuals more than we do ourselves, and so it stands to reason we should be at the helm of our own health security.

Of course, the State does have a vital role in health protection, and we see this most prominently at the times of a pandemic such as Covid-19. When the threat is severe and rapidly evolving, health protection measures, from simple avoidance of risky activities to full-scale vaccine programmes become necessary not just to protect individuals but to guard against the risks posed by individuals towards others. However, increasingly across the Globe, we see portions of populations rallying against Government-sponsored health protection, alongside portions ironically claiming Government is not doing enough. The question we should perhaps all be asking is “what are we doing to protect ourselves?”

By the time this article is read, I should be the proud recipient of my 4th Covid-19 vaccine dose, chosen because I believe it is in my own best health security interest. It’s a decision I thought about, carefully, and hopefully objectively. Every decision is a balance between risk-benefit, based on information that is constantly evolving. If we wait for complete certainty, we carry a much higher risk of the threat affecting us. So, what did I consider? The following went into my choice:

• My own health status, which is self-proclaimed not quite yet perfect!

• Risk factors I have, and besides being 54 years young, I do have some

• The evidence for vaccine effectiveness and safety, from reliable sources

• An actual look at my antibody status, along with discussion of such with a professional

• My personal experience of Covid-19, which I acquired in the Summer

The latter was significant. I was already fully vaccinated and boosted. My booster was in late October 2021. We know that protection declines over time. A vaccine can protect against you catching something and help you recover successfully from it. I recovered, as this column proves, but the experience is not one I wish to repeat, resulting in a loss of 8 working days, a set of horrible symptoms and an extended period of sometimes debilitating exhaustion. Only time will tell if there are any lasting effects. We are still learning.

At this point, some may be asking; “So if you had Covid that recently, why are you now vaccinating? Surely, you have naturally immunity?”

As a professional working in healthcare, I know that immune responses can be very different from one person to the next. We know that the later variants sometimes do not produce the same natural immunity or lasting immunity that the earlier ones did. So, I waited, and then I tested (Attomarker Ltd Covid-19 Antibody Immunity Test). And that test showed that although I had good levels of antibodies in an area that is more variable in its protective effect, I was on the borderline for levels of the main antibodies that could prevent me from getting another infection… already… just 12 weeks on from the last infection. So, it’s vaccination for me, confidently.

The point is that we must take responsibility for our own health choices, including health protection, but do so in an informed fashion. We are individuals, with individual risks and individual responses. We should seek the right answers, not decide on our favoured answered and then seek the evidence to support it. That’s not always easy in a tsunami of misinformation surrounding health issues, especially when the true understanding is also constantly evolving.

Consequently, there is still no substitute for the informed opinion of a trusted medical professional, who has a career responsibility to remain up-to-date with the latest understanding, access to reliable sources for latest evidence, and tests and evaluations that help inform personal health choices. And as the World moves towards personalised medicine in the growing understanding we are more uniquely individual than we ever thought possible, it should remind us that this does require our active engagement, decisions and actions, including around health security.

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