Mid-Maryland Internal Medicine
187 Thomas Johnson Dr., #4
Frederick, MD 21702 Tel: (240) 651-0420
Ali Afrookteh, MD
Martha Pierce, MD
Mid-Maryland Internal Medicine
Summer 2021 Newsletter
Did you notice? We’ve returned to our pre-pandemic format of seasonal newsletters, not focused solely on the pandemic! There are other things to talk about, like Lyme Disease, advances in dementia treatment and hero rats.
Before we get down to business, we’d like to take a moment to express our gratitude to you, our patients. At latest count, Mid-Maryland Internal Medicine has achieved over 90% immunization for COVID-19, putting us light years ahead of the rest of the country. As a group, you’ve shown amazing resilience and creativity in getting vaccinated (yes, we ALL have stories…) For those who are still having trouble getting vaccinated, or have concerns about the vaccine, please give us a call. There are legitimate reasons why some individuals may choose not to be vaccinated and we respect those decisions. No one should be shamed when it comes to making personal health decisions. We are here to provide guidance.
What a difference 90 days make. In February, people were spending hours on their computers and travelling hundreds of miles to ‘score’ a vaccine. Now there are programs that PAY people to get vaccinated.
The Pfizer two-part vaccine has been approved for children over the age of 12. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are available as well for those over 18.You may be aware that the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine was temporarily suspended over concerns about unusual blood clots. These appeared to specifically affect women of childbearing years. Although the total number of case was very small, it was recommended women at increased risk of blood clots to choose the alternative mRNA vaccine (the ones made by Moderna and Pfizer).
In May, after months of anticipating vaccine allotment for direct vaccination to our patients, Mid-Maryland Internal Medicine was offered an allotment of the J & J vaccine. By this time most of our patients had already been vaccinated elsewhere, so we declined the vaccine. We are still enrolled in the State vaccine distribution program, so that we can offer booster doses if and when they are indicated.
For now, it’s too early to know if or when boosters will be necessary. The available vaccines provide extremely robust immunity for COVID-19 and appear to be effective against most variants.
It's important to remember that just because you have been vaccinated does not mean you cannot get COVID. It means your chances of getting seriously ill and spreading the disease are much lower. Common sense precautions are still indicated, such as hand washing and social distancing if possible. It does allow most people to resume some sort of “normal” routine: meeting with vaccinated friends, eating at restaurants, planning a trip, etc.
Many countries are still experiencing unprecedented COVID surges and remain in lockdown, so travel restrictions remain in effect. It is important to remember this is a global pandemic and we won’t be safe in this country until all countries have access to vaccination.
To mask or not to mask - Most communities have lifted mask mandates, leaving it to individual establishments to enforce. Personally, aside from reducing the spread of COVID, we’ve had no cases of influenza this year and have prescribed far fewer antibiotics as a result of masking and handwashing. Finding the correct balance of personal liberty and community health will be an ongoing challenge.
You may have heard about the new, highly controversial, drug recently approved by the FDA to treat Alzheimer’s. Aduhelm, whose scientific name is aducanumab, eliminates beta-amyloid clumps in the brain — a process the developer, Biogen, says slows their ability to destroy neurons. Not all experts are convinced that clearing the toxic proteins will slow cognitive decline. The FDA has been in an uproar over this approval, with many questions unanswered, including efficacy and safety.
We will undoubtedly be hearing more about this, and other drugs targeted at treating the underlying causes of dementia. Learn more about Aduhelm.
We are fortunate to live in a region with so many world class institutions in our back yard.
The John Hopkins Memory and Alzheimer’s Treatment Center is one example. They are conducting numerous trials for individuals with memory loss, as well as research into caregiver support. Contact your caregiver if you think you or a family member may be an appropriate candidate.
Of all the post- COVID symptoms, loss of taste and smell are the most common. As with many things, we don’t appreciate them until they’re gone. People experiencing anosmia (loss of smell) or dysgeusia (disordered taste perception) will tell you the significant impact this has on their quality of life. The good news is that most people fully recover within weeks, although some may take up to 6 months.
Abscent is an informative website that can guide sufferers though some simple olfactory retraining exercises. Contact us if you’re interested in a small “starter kit” with samples of the essential oils they recommended for the process (Clove oil, Eucalyptus, Rose and Lemon)
We may owe you an apology. April is our big re-enrollment month. Due to a combination of factors, many of you received your invoices late and may have been charged a late fee as a result. In addition to letter delivery s taking weeks in some cases, we’ve had the Post Office return letters that were correctly addressed to us. We are working with our local Postmaster to correct these issues. In the meantime, if you’ve had trouble with your invoice or received a late fee, please call the office for a waiver.
The Hero Rat
And to end on a good note, the Washington Post recently reported Cambodia’s hero rat, Magawa, is retiring after sniffing out land mines for five years. These rats have been trained to detect land minds strewn throughout the countryside. This hero rat is credited for detecting over 71 land mines and 38 unexploded ordnances.
Have a great summer!
Martha Pierce, M.D.
Ali Afrookteh, M.D.