A Little Respect for Older People

It’s nice to know President Biden had lifesaving Paxlovid as soon as he tested positive for Covid. Of course, President Trump got lifesaving infusions when he had Covid symptoms. Good for them. The reality for other people their age or older is quite different. The Trump Infusions became functionally available only after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis set up centers across his state. Observing Florida’s success in saving lives, other states followed. However, almost a year elapsed after Trump’s treatment before these centers opened.

Even though Paxlovid was approved last December, until recently has been challenging to obtain. Horror stories of people traveling great distances to fill a Paxlovid prescription abound. Things are better, but you still have to check around to find it.

For the average person, this may not seem like a significant problem. For octogenarians like my wife and I, it is a matter of life or death. Four out of five covid deaths occur over 65.

Maybe you can understand my dismay when I asked my doctor for Paxlovid to have for an overseas trip where the drug was unavailable and turned down. No prescription until you test positive. The drug may conflict with other medications.

For decades, doctors prescribed antibiotics and other medications that might not be readily available on our travels to take with us. Our doctors always have a complete list of our prescriptions and supplements to avoid conflicts. Even today, Azithromycin and Ciproflocin are in our travel packs. 

Let us know if we must stop taking something during the five-day paxlovid treatment. We can follow instructions. 

Given our ages, what is the risk-reward in refusing to provide us with a possibly lifesaving drug? Why not a sensible exception to a rule? Yet, the mindset is the same as when New York and other states put Covid positive patients in nursing homes. 

Throughout the covid pandemic, protecting the most vulnerable, the aged, has been given a short shift. It took us a year to get N95 masks even though it was well known they protect the elderly. Other face coverings are worthless. Even though we are in good health, they’re making travel more dangerous for us than needed. 

It may be a good idea to send paxlovid to the aged and other vulnerable people. After all, we all have the government-provided home testing kits we requested. What good are they if the preferred treatment is challenging to get or, worse, unavailable at the time of a positive test?

 Those in the high-risk groups can ask their doctors for a prescription. After checking for conflicts, the doctors O.K. the medication, and you can get filled while you’re well. Running around to find the medicine isn’t fun if you’re sick. 

If there are conflicts, the doctors can provide alternatives. It is better to do these things in advance than under the gun. Some would say this is wasteful, but we send out free Covid test kits to everyone. If the point is to save lives, this course makes more sense because it puts the cure in the hands of those most in need in a timely fashion. 

On 3/20/20, I started my series on Covid 19 with the observation the disease was deadly to the elderly and the compromised. To others, it was the flu or asymptomatic. Children were rarely affected, if at all.

Over two years later, we still fail to take sensible steps to protect those truly at risk. I’ve shown how Florida had better outcomes by prioritizing them; it still is an uphill fight. 

You know we’re somebody’s grandparents. If that doesn’t move you, someday, you may find yourself in the same place. Lucky you! I feel better after ranting, but we’re no safer.

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