Question: I am wondering how an individual who is being vaccinated might determine if the vaccine they are receiving has been properly stored at the extreme cold temperature necessary. Maybe it will be impossible to know if the vaccine in some batches have been heat-damaged in transit or storage. I want to get vaccinated, but I do wonder about the possibility of getting a “dud” vaccine.
Answer: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued stringent guidelines for shipment and storage of COVID-19 vaccines. Hospitals and clinics that plan to administer these vaccines will be required to sign the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Provider Agreement certifying that they have the necessary equipment and well-trained staff to comply with the guidelines.
For the first vaccine the Food and Drug Administration is considering, that will include a “pharmaceutical grade” ultra-cold freezer and a continuous temperature monitoring device called a digital data logger (DDL). When the time comes for your vaccine, ask the health care facility to assure you that they have signed and are following the CDC’s COVID-19 agreement.
Question: My mother was deteriorating before our eyes, and we were very worried about her. I was not happy with the physician she was seeing and took her to mine for a consultation. My doctor took her off the bladder medicine Detrol and the blood pressure pill amlodipine immediately. Later, her cholesterol medication was changed as well.
Her blood pressure stayed in an acceptable range with some modification in her diet and adding a half hour of walking each day. Her brain fog (that mimicked dementia) lifted almost immediately. Her cholesterol also went to an acceptable level, and all the terrible side effects were gone. She is absolutely fine today. Please let your readers know that seniors may need special attention to their medications.
Answer: Drugs such as tolterodine (Detrol) that are often prescribed for bladder problems have anticholinergic activity. This can cause brain fog in vulnerable people. We are pleased to learn that a reevaluation of your mother’s medications is helping her do so much better.
Others who would like to learn more about drugs that are inappropriate for senior citizens may want to consult our eGuide to Drugs and Older People. It is available in the Health eGuides section of www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.
Question: I eat a lot of beets because I like them. I was surprised to read on your website that they can help control blood pressure. Another surprise was that antiseptic mouthwash might raise blood pressure.
I’ve been spending rather a lot on a mouthwash that is supposed to kill germs and keep my gums healthy. Maybe I can save some money by dropping that off my shopping list.
Answer: Maybe you could. Please check with your dentist.
Researchers have found that antiseptic mouthwash that disrupts the oral bacteria seems to raise blood pressure modestly (Free Radical Biology & Medicine, February 2013). Apparently, many bacteria in our mouths turn nitrates from vegetables like beets or spinach into blood-pressure lowering nitrites. Killing healthy bacteria means less nitrite and nitric oxide in the blood stream. As a consequence, blood pressure may drift upward. A recent review of studies concluded that “oral bacteria may play an important role in mediating the beneficial effects of nitrate-rich foods on blood pressure” (Nutrition Research Reviews, Dec. 7, 2020).
Question: I am unable to get the flu shot due to an allergy to egg lecithin. Will the COVID-19 vaccine have egg protein in it as well? I have asthma and am susceptible to bronchitis.
Answer: At this time, the Food and Drug Administration is considering two anti-COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use authorization. Both use the new mRNA technology, which completely bypasses the need for eggs in producing the vaccine.
We usually say we can’t second-guess the FDA, but we do anticipate that one or both of these vaccines will be made available for people at high risk. When the time comes for you to get vaccinated, be sure to ask which vaccine you will be getting. If it is from Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech, you won’t need to worry about egg protein.
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist; Dr. Teresa Graedon is a medical anthropologist and nutrition expert. Questions for the Graedons can be sent to them using their website, www.peoplespharmacy.com, or by writing to the following address: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803.