“In case you’re wondering…” A Meditation on Expertise in the Time of COVID
In case you’re wondering:
- I went to medical school for four years.
- I did an internal medicine internship for one year.
- I did a pediatric residency for three years.
- I am board certified in Pediatrics.
- I have been in practice for over 35 years.
- I have seen over 175,000 patients.
- I am a Professor of Pediatrics at a medical school.
- I have published articles in peer-reviewed journals
- I have given scholarly lectures at other medical schools.
- I have spoken in local and national media as an expert on health care topics, particularly in Pediatrics.
- I have been a board member or president of numerous local, state, and national health care advocacy organizations. I have done this as a volunteer. I have not received a cent for it.
And I have given and prescribed countless vaccines. I have never made one more penny from giving a vaccine than I would have if I hadn’t given those same vaccines. In fact, I have spent countless hours talking to people about why giving their children vaccines is important, time for which, again, I was not paid a cent.
I don’t like saying all this because my modest Irish Catholic mom scoffed at displays of pride, always saying, “Now, Kenny, don’t get a big head.” Beyond that, I’m not a big fan of the Appeal to Authority assertion, the “These are my credentials so you MUST believe me” argument.
But honestly, I’m at a loss here. If you think that I and my colleagues are somehow part of an evil cabal to do God knows what profiteering, nefarious, deceitful, harmful things to you and your children through vaccines… well, then, I don’t have a good response for you.
You see, I am very proud to be part of this profession, imperfect as it sometimes is, because at the end of the day I can lay my head on my pillow and feel that I made the world a slightly better place that day for maybe one or two kids. I realize how rare it is that people have the opportunity to do that. And yes, I am thankful.
So when I lay out my credentials like this in a way that makes me wonder if my mom would slowly shake her head and say, “Oh, Kenny…,” what I am trying to say is that I hope you know that I and countless other medical professionals like me are dedicated to your health and to the health of your children. Yes, it’s true that we make a decent living, but if we really only wanted to make a lot of money, medicine is not where we would be. We work long hours and give up a lot in terms of time with family and friends and letting go of other pursuits. We do that because we want you to stay healthy.
Vaccines are unequivocally a blessing and something that will help to preserve your life and the life of your family. As far as making the world a better place every day for one or two kids, I’m not the guy who’s going to do a heart transplant or cure someone of cancer. However, I am the guy who’s going to give vaccines to kids and know — absolutely know — that some of those kids will remain alive to live amazing lives because they never died of something that we are able to prevent.
The problem with preventive care, with public health, with stuff like vaccines is that I can’t point to some kid in a stroller in the Galleria and say, “You know, that kid would have died if she hadn’t been vaccinated against pertussis” or point to another kid running down the aisle at Target and say, “And that kid would have had permanent brain damage because of haemophilus meningitis if he hadn’t gotten vaccinated.” I’ll never know who I’ve saved. I do know, though, that I have saved kids’ lives because of vaccines.
Look, I know that there is a lot of scary stuff out there about vaccines, particularly about the COVID vaccine. People’s reasons for putting those stories out there are their own. And if you want to believe a radio talk show host or a TikTok celebrity whose idea of “research” is to Google “COVID vaccines and microchips” instead of trusting me and my colleagues, of course, that’s your business. But I’d sure be interested in knowing how you make decisions about who you hire to put a new roof on your house and where you buy the buckets you’ll need later when it rains.
My reason for urging you to get the COVID vaccine is simple. I want you to stay alive, and I want you to stay healthy. I want you to have a good life, and I want you to be there so you can watch your kids and grandkids grow up. And I especailly want those kids and grandkids to stay healthy enough to grow up.
And the hard part of this is I’ll never know — and yeah, you’ll never know — if that vaccine actually saved you. Hopefully you will do just fine, and you will dodge a bullet that you never even knew flew right by you. But if you don’t get vaccinated and you get sick or if someone you love gets sick and you finally realize that you could have avoided all of that misery, would you ever be able to forgive yourself?
So even if my mom wouldn’t too happy about it, I’m just going to say this:
- I HAVE done the work.
- I DO know what I’m talking about.
- Just get vaccinated.