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What is the single most important question about COVID-19 you think needs to be answered? Submit it for a special Idaho Matters Doctors Roundtable in English and Spanish.

'Walking wounded': Idaho doctors talk long-haul COVID-19

Virus Outbreak The Recovery
Darron Cummings/AP
Emily Smith watches as Larry Brown lifts a weighted ball during an occupational therapy session at Community Health Network, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, in Indianapolis. He didn’t die of COVID-19, but he’s coming to terms with the fact that his life might never be the same. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Idaho’s COVID-19 test positivity rate and hospitalization rate have been declining over the last few weeK, making some health officials cautiously optimistic confident that we might be past the peak of COVID-19 delta surge. But they say it's still too early to tell.

Joining Idaho Matters today to talk about case rates, misinformation, long-haul symptoms and more are Dr. David Pate, former CEO of St. Luke's Health System and a current member of the Idaho Coronavirus Task Force, and Dr. Jim Souza, Chief Physician Executive for St. Luke's Health System.

"We've spent way too much time talking about binary outcomes of death versus recovery. And in fact, many people—up to 30% percent of people—end up with some form of 'walking wounded.'"
Dr. Jim Souza, Chief Physician Executive for St. Luke's Health System.

Gemma Gaudette: You're listening to Idaho Matters, I'm Gemma Gaudette. Idaho's COVID test positivity rate and hospitalization rate have been declining over the last few weeks, making some health officials more confident that we might be past the peak of the COVID-19 delta surge. Now, with that said, during a news conference yesterday, health officials emphasized that our test positivity rate was more than 10.5% the week of October 3rd. This is the most recent data that's available, and that far exceeds the 5% that experts like to see to show control of virus spread. Joining us today to talk more is Dr. David Pate, former CEO of St. Luke's Health System and a current member of the Idaho Coronavirus Task Force, along with Dr. Jim Souza, chief physician executive for St. Luke's Health System. Thank you both for joining us today.

Dr. David Pate: Hi, Gemma.

Gemma Gaudette: So we should also note that the state does remain in crisis standards of care, with a lot of hospitals experiencing patient levels at or near their capacity. In fact, in this news conference yesterday, state health officials said that hospitals in the Treasure Valley and North Idaho still actually have more patients than they did when crisis standards of care were activated. So Dr. Souza, with all of that, what can you tell us about St. Luke's right now?

Dr. Jim Souza: Yeah, thanks. We're still in a really tight spot. We are glad to see, you know, in the state, data sets the beginning of what we believe will be an easing of hospital volumes--but we are not there yet. I might remind folks that, you know, hospitalizations lag behind infections and ICU hospitalizations lag behind, you know, med surge hospitalizations. Right now as we speak, are intensive care units are still at greater than 100% of capacity. Our resources are still severely constrained. We still have the same limitations on surgical procedures, so definitely not time to declare victory yet. The signs in the cases and the case rate and what we've seen, you know, from around the country, most areas have this sort of two month run up to the peak and then start to see an easing. We're optimistic that we're getting there, but we are not there yet.

Gemma Gaudette: And Dr. Pate, with that said, you know, we know that Idaho is third in the nation when it comes to test positivity rates--behind Montana and Wyoming. As of today. So are we past this peak of the Delta surge? And I ask this--and it's always such a difficult question to ask because you do want to give people hope. But at the same time, as Dr. Souza said, it's not necessarily like, 'Hey, let's take all precautions and, you know, throw them out the window.'

Dr. David Pate: Yeah. Gemma, I think that's the important point. We can certainly argue for and against the proposition that we've hit the peak. I think it's certainly possible that we have hit the peak. It will be clearer in retrospect and certainly we are pleased that it certainly does appear that cases have plateaued off. But I think we need to keep a number of things in mind. Number one, those numbers are not completely telling the whole story because we know there's a backlog of cases. We know that there's lots of people that, you know, aren't getting tested. So yes, I am hopeful that we have plateaued. Our models suggested that we would be plateauing about this time. But as you said, no cause for celebration because our hospitals are still stressed, they are not operating under normal conditions. Too many people still cannot get the health care services, for example, surgeries and so forth that they need. And so we still have to be focused on bringing the transmission down, and that means taking measures to prevent people from getting infected. And then the other qualifier I want to just add is that we are now embarking on influenza season. So yes, COVID is a big concern for us, but there are other threats like RSV in kids and now influenza in adults. So let me just make a pitch to everybody listening: if you have not already gotten your flu vaccine this year, this is the perfect time to do it. Please before November, just go ahead and get your flu shot, because that's going to be one less thing to stress our hospitals. And certainly, it seems to be that getting co-infected influenza and COVID is going to cause you to be even sicker. So I'm cautiously optimistic, but too early to call.

Gemma Gaudette: Hmm. Dr. Souza, where are we...we've had this question quite a bit in terms of the FDA recommending boosters for Moderna and J&J. They've done that for Pfizer, for certain parts of the population, and I know a lot of people are waiting to find out about this.

Dr. Jim Souza: Yeah, we're anxiously waiting. I don't have a hotline to them-- I wish I did. I really wish I did. And we're not only waiting for that, we're also waiting I think for some recommendations on the mix and match topic. If you didn't have a certain vaccine available, is it OK to to take another one? So we're waiting on that too. Soon. We keep hearing soon and very soon, and I think Dr. Fauci and others have been signaling that to us for the last couple of weeks.

Gemma Gaudette: And Dr. Pate, I know a lot of people have been waiting anxiously to about five to 11 year olds being able to be vaccinated. We know that the FDA will meet on October 6th. There's going to be some other meetings. It sounds like maybe November 3rd ish, they may be saying, you know, giving the go ahead. However, when we listen--we heard this just on NPR right before we came on--is that the United States has actually purchased 28 million doses to vaccinate this age group. So it sounds like we're maybe a little bit ahead of the curve on this one, so that we can jump on it?

Dr. David Pate: Well, I do think we're well prepared to...first of all, we have the vaccine and second to get it out to providers who can vaccinate children. I think your timeline is about right. That first meeting--remember that there's four key steps in the approval or the authorization of these vaccines. That first step occurs on October 26th, as you said, and generally the other three steps can occur in as soon as a week. So I think your timeline of early November is a pretty good one that when we might get the authorization for kids--I'm certainly counting down those days. I can't wait till my grandchildren can be vaccinated. And I think that one more thing, though, that we have to keep in mind, it does no good for us to have these vaccines that are very safe and effective and to have them authorized by the FDA and the CDC if parents won't get their children vaccinated. And so my word to all the parents, all of you that have been frustrated by children not being able to be in school every day of the week, parents who have been frustrated by children having to quarantine or isolate, parents that have been frustrated by kids having to wear masks, parents that have been frustrated by kids not being able to participate in sports. Here's your ticket. This is the way that we get there, so please get your kids vaccinated when we get that authorization.

Gemma Gaudette: And we should note that the Department of Health and Welfare in their news briefing yesterday, said that our state will have almost 62,000 pediatric doses ordered when that go ahead is given and their goal is to administer 21,000 doses a week as soon as they get this. But that goes back to your point Dr. Pate of parents getting your kiddos vaccinated. Dr. Souza, I want to talk about a recent trip you took to New York City, and the reason why is...I think some stark differences that you saw between what's going on in certain parts of the U.S. versus where we live.

Dr. Jim Souza: Yeah, thanks for that. And thanks for letting me share this story. It certainly made an impression on me. You know what I experienced in New York versus what I'm experiencing here and then the data behind my experience...I recently traveled there to visit my son, who's an R.N. in New York City, a nurse, and just for comparison: Idaho has 1.8 million people spread across 83,000 square miles, and we are clocking, as you know, you know, 1,400 to 2,000 cases a day. New York City has 8.8 million people throughout the boroughs in a 300 square mile area versus 83,000 thousand square miles, and it's clocking 1,400 to 2,000 cases per day. I can tell you from my experience there that the New York City trains and restaurants and museums and theaters, all of which I visited, were packed. My vaccine card, Gemma, is dog eared from taking it out of my hand and out of my wallet so often. And everyone knows the masking rules when congregated together now. I mean, here's the real kicker: while Idaho's hospitalizations peaked at almost 200% of the December surge from 2020. The delta surge in New York City has led to a peak that is only 30% of their winter peak. So the point is that this basic stuff--vaccination, masking when congregated,limiting gathering sizes, when you can't do those things, it works. And it allows for both something we've been saying since the beginning of the pandemic. When you do those things in concert, it allows for both safe health care that's not inundated, safe business and a whole heck of a lot of fun for people. I had a ball.

Gemma Gaudette: Hmm. Well, you know, Dr. Souza, it's so interesting. We have traveled a couple of times to Hawaii during this, and I bring it up because we've had similar experiences where, you know, first off, you have to either have proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to even travel there without having to quarantine. Once you're there, there's a statewide mask mandate in place. There is not one place that you walk indoors or people are not masked, ever. Ever. And businesses are back open. You can, of course, be outside. But it is such a stark difference when you experience something like that and knowing that life can move forward. So I'm curious about what it was like when you came home...because I have found it very difficult, sometimes emotionally to come home.

Dr. Jim Souza: Well, yeah, you know, it was challenging on the leg from Minneapolis to Boise. We had a gentleman a few rows back that was challenging the mask requirement, and the flight attendant just gave up after about 20 minutes. And frankly, I don't blame her... I mean, do we really expect her to put herself in harm's way potentially? So that was frustrating. You know, it struck me that what I saw in New York City is an economy that is throbbing. I mean, it is back, it is busy. And I left with an impression that maybe this is what you get when you put safety first.

Gemma Gaudette: Before we get to our listener questions and we have quite a few--I want to talk about the death this week of former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Dr. Pate, I bring this up because I think there was a lot of misinformation around Colin Powell's passing because he was fully vaccinated. So all of a sudden, if you get on social media, it's like, see, the vaccine doesn't work, right? He was vaccinated. He died. With that said... I mean, he had cancer...he had preexisting conditions.

Dr. David Pate: Well, that's exactly right, Gemma. Deaths in the vaccinated, the fully vaccinated are not very common, but if you are very elderly, you know, in the eighties and above, and if you have a immunocompromised condition, those are two things that are going to make death more likely. What this is is not so much a failure of the vaccine, but a failure of people around General Powell to be vaccinated and protected so that they didn't expose him. So the vaccines work. And in his case, his cancer is a blood condition called multiple myeloma, and that is a cancerous proliferation of a certain type of blood cell. And guess what? It's the blood cell that makes antibodies. So if you were going to pick an immunocompromised condition, you know, that would be among the worst. This would be it. And so it's terribly sad that this caused his death. But I don't think it's shocking, and certainly people should not be using this to create misinformation that the vaccines don't work. We have overwhelming evidence that the vaccines do, in fact work, but they cannot protect 100% of people, 100% of the time. That's why we have to get the transmission of the virus down. If we get that down so that people aren't spreading as much virus, then those people who aren't going to be fully protected are going to be better protected because it's going to be less likely they're going to be exposed to the virus.

Gemma Gaudette: Dr. Pate, can you go into a little bit more detail on something that you mentioned in that comment...which is that this goes back to people needing to get vaccinated in order to help the community. You know, in some ways, Colin Powell did not die because the vaccine didn't work for him. He died because our vaccine rates aren't where they should be. And so, as you mentioned, we continue to spread this virus.

Dr. David Pate: Well, you're absolutely right,Gemma, and this is one of the things that--I suspect I can speak for Dr. Souza on this as well-- that frustrates both of us. We both are in favor of personal rights. Absolutely. People have a lot of rights. That's a beauty of America. However, with those rights also come responsibilities. And you know, the United States is a Judeo-Christian country, and we're founded on those principles. And one of those values is supposed to be that we care for our neighbors and we care for those that are less fortunate. And so one of the things that we do is we get a variety of vaccinations so that even if that particular disease we're vaccinating against isn't going to particularly hurt the person being vaccinated, what we're doing by getting vaccinated and by getting everybody vaccinated is we're protecting those who can't get vaccinated. For example, for a lot of illnesses, children under the age of six months cannot be vaccinated, so we have to protect those children and the way we protect them is the rest of us get vaccinated. Then there's so little virus around, the chances that we would ever expose that infant are very small. And then the same thing goes if you're immunocompromised, you can get vaccinated, but you're not going to be fully protected. So we get vaccinated so that we protect those people too. And in fact, there's a fascinating study that just came out and looked at households where someone in the household couldn't get vaccinated. And one of them is they looked at a household of five. And if there was somebody in that household who couldn't get vaccinated or could, but was immunocompromised, if the other four got vaccinated, it reduced the chance that that fifth person would get infected by like 97% compared to other families of five that didn't get vaccinated. So we know this works. We know this is our way out of it. And just as Dr. Souza described, we can all have such a better life, like what he described there, what he encountered in New York City, if we would all just do our part.

Gemma Gaudette: Simple as that. I want to get to some listener questions. Dr. Souza, Sky wrote in asking, 'Do women who were vaccinated during pregnancy give any immunity to their baby at birth?'

Dr. Jim Souza: Yeah, absolutely. Actually, before birth that occurs, vaccination leads to measurable transfer of antibodies across the placenta, just like it does with other vaccines... like the Tdap vaccine, tetanus, that people might be familiar with. So yes, there is some protection that comes to the baby from mom. And I would also grab this opportunity to make the point how important it is for pregnant moms to get vaccinated. Dr. Pate... in speaking about General Powell and the topic of immune compromised patients...it's important for pregnant women to remember the miracle of pregnancy. And part of what I mean by that is miraculously, the mom doesn't reject the foreign tissue within her body, right, and the way that occurs is through a natural state of significant immune compromise during pregnancy. And we've seen in our hospitals, you know, heavy burden of pregnant women with severe disease. We've lost moms and we've lost babies, sadly. So really, really important for pregnant women to get a vaccine.

Gemma Gaudette: Dr. Pate, Ellen wrote in saying, 'is it true that the monoclonal antibodies are only being administered to those 65 and over? If true, why?' She says also, 'how soon will a positive COVID fast test show up after exposure on a home quick test?' And she goes on to say,' we're confused as to when to use these tests at home.'

Dr. David Pate: Yeah. Ok, the first one monoclonal antibodies. No, that's not true. Monoclonal antibodies, you don't have to be over 65. Obviously, if you are, you're going to fall in a higher risk group and would certainly be a candidate for monoclonal antibodies. But there's other people, just as Dr. Souza was just saying, that may be very high risk and that are under the age of 65. And when the assessment is that the person is at high risk for severe disease, then monoclonal antibodies are one of the things that we can use to try to avoid their disease from deteriorating and then getting to the point where they have to be hospitalized or, God forbid, die. On the issue of the COVID tests--so if you're exposed, you know, we can certainly see the test become positive in just a couple of days, but it's different for different people. Probably a lot of different factors go into that. Generally, what we say is if you've been exposed, then you should get tested three to five days after that exposure because it does take some time for that virus to propagate and build up in your nose to the level where it'll be detected with the test.

Gemma Gaudette: Dr. Souza, Mario wrote in and he says that he is 64 with a history of rheumatoid arthritis and he's on immunosuppressives. He got the Pfizer vaccine, but he then got a flare up of R.A. So he is very concerned about continuing to get another Pfizer dose. So basically, he wants to know, could he switch and get the J&J vaccine? But he goes on to say 'most of the places that I went to to get the J&J vaccine didn't have it and the other places didn't want to give me a different vaccine.' So what..what can he do? And Mario, we should say this is also something you should talk with your own physician about, but we will also ask Dr. Souza his his thoughts on it.

Dr. Jim Souza: Yeah, thank you, Gemma. That's a good one, Mario. And Gemma is right. I definitely encourage you to work with your doctor or work with your rheumatologist, assuming you have a rheumatologist on this. And the reason I'm...I want to say that first is because there might be other ways to support and suppress your rheumatoid arthritis and still get a booster without mixing and matching. I mean, if your doc can mitigate your rheumatoid arthritis in a way that would allow the vaccine, I think he or she would want to do that. If that's not possible, I suspect there would be solid grounds to go ahead with a different vaccine, and nothing stops a physician from being able to order that, to do that. I'd just do it in conjunction with your doctor so that everybody's got line of sight to what's going on. In the background, you know, this came up at the top of our conversation--we do expect the federal authorities to issue guidance on this soon regarding this notion of mixing and matching.

Gemma Gaudette: Dr. Pate we just got one in. This person would like to remain anonymous and I'm going to read it. But Dr. Pate, I'm going to butcher some words here, so bear with me. This individual writes I contracted COVID a year ago this week. What I would like to learn from your medical experts is more about anosmia, parosmia...so I'm not sure if I got those right, but they go on to say...I lost all smell and taste until May of 2021 and that's that anosmia. And then everything got so much worse when these other two things came into play. This individual says basically foods inedible, especially anything that contains animal protein.Go on to say, 'I've lost a ton of weight and not in a healthy way. Is there research being done on on these?' So Dr. Pate, can you maybe quickly say the words right and what they are?

Dr. David Pate: Yeah. So so these these phrases--he's using the medical terms for basically loss of smell or a disturbance of smell. So that things that, you know, normally smell one way to a smell--you can still smell it, but it's different. So those are two different things. Loss of smell where you just can't smell it, or the abnormal smell where you can still smell something...but it's not how it normally smells. And you know, he brings up a really good point that--let me just catapult to-- you know, so much of what's frustrating about our public discussions about COVID, centers around deaths. No question deaths are very disturbing and very concerning--but it's not the whole picture. And I think that what doesn't get enough talk when I hear people who are not going to get vaccinated to say,'well, but my chance of dying is zero point, whatever it is.' First of all, they don't know what their individual chance of dying is. Those are statistics for a general population, and they may be different, but it disregards the fact that COVID can produce a lot of bad things, even if you survive it. And, you know, Dr. Souza's one that sees a lot of these patients who even though they've recovered from their COVID may have long term breathlessness, may have long term decrease in exercise capacity, may have...there's all kinds of things that people are troubled with, and unfortunately, this gentleman...we don't realize how important smell is until you don't have it. And he brought up a really good point. One of the things that is a very troubling side effect of losing your smell is you also lose the enjoyment for your food, and people often start eating much less and sometimes that can be tolerated. But in other people--like he's mentioning--it can be a serious health threat. Now, to answer this question specifically--yes, there is research going on to why does this occur. We think we have some ideas why this occurs. And what does it mean for the person long term. So yes, that research is going on. I'm sure we'll come up with a lot. But I think it's a great case to illustrate that there are a lot of people struggling with the aftereffects of COVID. So even if you don't think you're going to die, please get vaccinated. Why would you want to go through these things?

Dr. Jim Souza: YI'd only add to Dr. Pate's comments that when you totally lose your smell, anosmia, the first phase in recovery is parosmia, where you get back the dysfunctional smell and then normal smell--I guess, which I'm not even sure is that norm osmia? I don't know, Dr. Pate, I think it probably is--so it sounds like, you know, it sounds like this person is in that middle phase and there there is research. Dr. Pate is right, and I would consider getting connected with a long COVID clinic. I know that St. Luke's has a long COVID clinic. Our physicians who are part of that clinic will stay up to date with the most recent ...and regarding this parosmia topic, we are starting to prescribe, you know, smell exercises basically to help retrain the brain to sort those smells appropriately.

Gemma Gaudette: And Dr. Souza, that was exactly what I wanted to bring up was that there is a long COVID clinic that St. Luke's has opened. This goes back to Dr. Pate's point of...so much of the public conversation and discord is around the death rate, which one would think that would be enough for some people--but it is not. And we forget that you don't have to have a severe case of COVID to be a quote 'long hauler.'Correct?

Dr. Jim Souza: That is correct. And we have a lot of those folks out there. That clinic has a substantial backlog already. I think the value of the clinic is, first of all, to find something that we should be treating differently and managing differently. Second, to connect those patients with what may turn into opportunities to be part of a data registry or even maybe in the future, part of a clinical trial, as we understand this disorder better and importantly, to connect with a community of like individuals who are going through the same thing. But yeah, the statistics on this are not...they're not good. Dr. Pate is absolutely right. We're spending...we've spent way too much time talking about binary outcomes of death versus recovery. And in fact, many people--up to 30% percent of people--end up with some form of 'walking wounded.'

Gemma Gaudette: Hmm. 30%. I mean, that's a big, big number. Dr. Pate, a listener from Payette, writes in saying,'I just came from a hospital lab and the person who drew my blood said that the E.R. was busy due to vaccine reactions. What can the doctors tell us about how busy the ERS are due to vaccine reactions?'

Dr. David Pate: Well, Dr. Souza will have better information than I do, because he stays on this up to date day-by-day, but I can tell you, I've talked to many emergency room physicians and I cannot find support for that person's comment. I think we have had very few vaccine problems and most of those that occur--which are very few-- are immediate reactions within the first 15-30 minutes. So usually we just handle that and we can handle it very easily at the place where they're getting vaccinated. So I frankly am not aware of any people needing emergency care other than what I just mentioned for vaccine reactions. But I'll see if Dr. Souza knows something I don't.

Dr. Jim Souza: Yeah, I agree with Dr. Pate, and I also need to call this one a myth, Gemma. We definitely have seen--I want to be clear--scattered patients with, you know, a significant immune reaction symptom: fever, chills, occasional nausea,vomiting. But these have been pretty rare, especially in emergency department sites, because they're not emergencies. These tend to occur right when all other options are exhausted, it's literally the middle of the night. The urgent cares are closed and things like that. I would say they were always rare and they seem to be decreasing with time, which I think is related both to increased familiarity with what these side effects are and what you can expect. And sadly, a decreased demand for vaccines in Idaho.

Gemma Gaudette: And I want to ask...so I have another question from Stephanie and Dr. Souza I would like you to answer first and then Dr. Pate, if you have any thoughts on this, it is kind of long. So bear with me. But Stephanie wrote in and she says 'at a well-child check for my 3 year old on October 1st, I asked my child's pediatrician if he recommends we get our child the COVID-19 vaccine, when they're available for his age group. The pediatrician advised that we wait and that it might be quote, 'less risky' for our child to get sick with coronavirus than to get the vaccine. He also stated kids are being hospitalized from the vaccine and that we don't know enough about the long term effects of the vaccine to give it safely to children. He stated that coronavirus is like a bad flu and we don't freak out about the flu. And if that he had young kids himself, he would not get them vaccinated.' She says 'this seems like an irresponsible message.' She says, 'I'm concerned this provider is spreading vaccine misinformation in our community, and it's influencing parents in a dangerous way.' She goes on to say, 'After speaking with this medical provider, I am now confused and uncertain about whether or not to get my child vaccinated because we are told to trust the science and trust our medical professionals. So I wrote to St. Luke's patient relations to ask, is this St. Luke's official position on children receiving the coronavirus vaccine?' So, Dr. Souza, if you could answer that first.

Dr. Jim Souza: Yeah. Oh my god, no. This is not our official position. This is not the official position of the medical community. This should not be the official position of a practicing physician. But, you know, I don't have the ability to control what licensed independent practitioners say and do. I think both Dr. Pate and I have passionately wanted accountability to find a home with folks with the same credentials that we have, who wear the same uniforms we do, putting this sort of misinformation in the minds of parents. Let me say it this way--no matter how you slice it or dice it for that 3 year old child, if mom and dad have to weigh the risk and fortunately, the risk of a hospitalization or a death is really small for a child, that's great news. But if mom or dad weigh the risk of multisystem inflammatory syndrome from COVID myocarditis, from COVID actually needing to be hospitalized, even if just for a few days from COVID, and contrast that with the vaccine related risks, I mean, apples and oranges is not even an adequate metaphor for that. It's like apples and broccoli. It doesn't compare. So I'll let Dr. Pate jump in here, too. I really appreciate that question. And I might ask mom to consider getting a second opinion.

Dr. David Pate: Yeah, I share Dr. Souza's thoughts, exactly. There had been no shortage of times when I've been outraged by some of the things that people with doctor in front of their name have said, that is just flat out wrong. And you know, it's...I don't know why it happens. I've certainly got my suspicions about what motivates people that should know better to do what they're doing, but they're doing it. And let me just say that not only was that advice really irresponsible, I think not only should that parent consider getting a second advice, a second opinion, I think that parents should consider changing pediatricians because you have to wonder if someone could be this wrong about the COVID vaccine...you know, what else are they wrong about? You know, I just urge people--look, if you've got just a handful of doctors saying something that really doesn't fit with what the World Health Organization says, the CDC says your local trusted doctors, which let me tell you, I know Dr Souza--if Dr Souza told me to take something, I would do it without a question. He's very careful and he gives great advice. You know, these are people we can trust. I don't know what these other people's motivations are. And if you're in question, check the American Academy of Pediatrics for what their statement is and they support vaccinations. In fact, all we have to do--now we're waiting on the data for five to 12, we don't have that yet--but if you look at the 12 to 18 who we are vaccinating, and you look at those kids that do end up sick like Dr. Souza was just explaining, they are almost all unvaccinated. So again, we don't have to abandon common sense. We don't have to, you know, take everything that everybody says at face value. Let's look at what these trusted medical groups say...the FDA is not going to authorize this vaccine if it's unless it's safe. And let me tell you, I can guarantee everybody listening to this broadcast, you have taken a supplement or a medication that we know far less about than what we know about these vaccines. These vaccines are safe, effective and you don't want want to be one of these people that show up at the hospital and Dr. Souza gets called to come and evaluate you for going on a ventilator. And then you ask,'OK, well, can I get my vaccine now?' because it's too late.

Gemma Gaudette: And I say this--and correct me if I'm wrong--but I remember when my son--my oldest is 13. Right around the time he was 2, I believe, it was the H1N1 flu. And it was impacting children very much very seriously. And we were able to get him vaccinated for that. This was not political. I mean, parents were lined up around the Kmart in Boise because that's where they were doing this clinic. I did not question at all what was in this vaccine, what it would do. I knew that it would keep my child safe. And Dr. Pate, you know, it's so difficult as a parent, I mean...we worry about our children more than we worry about ourselves.

Dr. David Pate: Well, it's true, Gemma. Here we are in 2021, and we have the most understanding about viruses, vaccines, immunology than we've ever had. Why on earth we should be having more death, worse outcomes than with a flu epidemic or pandemic that we had over 100 years ago is really sobering. We have all this knowledge and technology and for people not to use it...you're right. I talk to my mom about polio because I was just a small infant at the time and and I said,' was there all this drama about the polio vaccine?' She said, 'Oh, no.' She said parents were lining up to get their kids vaccinated because what they saw at the movie theater, in the previews, and what they saw on TV was people in metal lungs and people paralyzed. And so they were ready to get their kids vaccinated....

Gemma Gaudette: ...Dr. Pate. I have to let you go right now. Thank you to Dr. Pate and Dr. Souza. Appreciate both of you so much. We've run out of time. I'm Gemma Gaudette. We'll see you back here tomorrow.

Gemma is the host of Idaho Matters, Boise State Public Radio's daily show which broadcasts live Monday-Friday at noon. She is an award-winning journalist and has spent the majority of her broadcasting career in Idaho. Gemma was a television news anchor and reporter in Boise for close to 15 years. She came to Boise in 1999 to start Fox 12.
Samantha Wright is a news reporter and producer for Idaho Matters.