Dr. M’s SPA Newsletter Audiocast Volume 12 Issue 7, Covid Updates 54

Coronavirus Update #54 – This audiocast is a deeper dive into policy and opinion based on the same for Omicron.

In my opinion, our children’s mental and physical health need to take primacy over pandemic fear at this time. They are in a very very very low risk scenario from COVID, however, they remain in a high risk scenario from a mental and metabolic health perspective. The scales do not favor current school based mitigation measures based on risk and health from Omicron and the downstream events relate to it. If you are a young person, boosting is questionable, especially if you are a male with myocarditis risk. The WHO and European Union are not recommending it at this time. The CDC is recommending down to age 12. Let us say that you are 18 years old and male. If a young adult receives a third dose of an mRNA vaccine which provides marginal to no transmission benefit for 90 to 110 days and minimal disease severity reduction because it is already almost zero after a 2 dose series, what is the point. Are our youth supposed to protect the unvaccinated? The vaccinated and boosted with risk factors? For how long? Then what? Do it again, and again every three months as immunity wanes rapidly? Has this ever been done before or well studied? Nope.
Be well,
Dr. M

Dr. M’s SPA Newsletter Audiocast Volume 11 Issues 32 and 34

Majestic poplar

Newsletter #32 covers – School and the Covid Generation

More than a year later, as we had feared, we are starting to see and feel the repercussions of the school closure pandemic phenomenon. The K shaped recovery of the economic pandemic is also playing out similarly in the school system. Last year, private schools stayed open while public schools shuttered. Of those in public school systems, many that could afford one, hired tutors to bridge the academic dysfunction of zoom education. The gap between the rich and poor just widened like never before right before our eyes. Regardless of the intent behind the outcome, we are now here. It serves no purpose to blame teachers unions or local governments or parents living in fear or any other publicized reason to date. We are Americans and we must now roll up our sleeves and begin the process of bridging this gap again. These children deserve our total and unwavering support. Link to more….

Newsletter #34 covers – Long Covid and its association with Epstein Barr Virus, EBV, reactivation

This is a very important topic for clinicians and parents to understand so we are going to look at it a little more deeply.
Long COVID or what appears to be a post infectious inflammatory issue may now be a consequence of another infection. What are the symptoms of long COVID and when do they occur? From the CDC: Some people are experiencing a range of new or ongoing symptoms that can last weeks or months after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Unlike some of the other types of post-COVID conditions that only tend to occur in people who have had severe illness, these symptoms can happen to anyone who has had COVID-19, even if the illness was mild, or if they had no initial symptoms. Symptoms can even begin weeks after the infection.  Link to more….

Dr. M’s SPA Newsletter Volume 11 Issue 29 Covid Update #39

Coronavirus Update #39 Quick hits
1) Repeat with new information as an important follow up on MIS-C, multi inflammatory syndrome – c., from 2 weeks ago. Remember that in children, MIS-c is associated with poor intestinal function from a microbiome perspective coupled to genetic weaknesses in immune suppression of chemokine CXCL9 post inflammation. Research from the lab of Dr. Alessio Fasano has shown direct evidence of intestinal permeability in children with multi inflammatory syndrome – c:
The authors found that children, unlike adults, the SARS2 virus decides to take up residence in the intestines and replicate there. The virus can be found in the child’s stool via testing. This is a unique finding to children as the intestine is not known to be a harboring site for the virus in adults. The expert researcher on this paper, Dr. Fasano, has extensive knowledge of the function of the intestinal mucosal lining and the fact that the cells are held together by tight junctions made up of different proteins forming a semi impermeable membrane…….
Have a great day,
Dr. M

Dr. M’s SPA Newsletter Volume 11 Issue 27 Covid Update #38

Just when you think that the information on SARS2 Covid19 is slowing to a crawl with new discovery, a favorite researcher publishes a truly remarkable bit of scientific discovery. Dr. Alessio Fasano is featured below in Number 6 and his work is really important. A little science heavy but critical for children. There is a take home summary as well. Don’t miss this information.
Quick hits
1) CDC data on adolescent hospitalizations: COVID-19 adolescent hospitalization rates from COVID-NET peaked at 2.1 per 100,000 in early January 2021, declined to 0.6 in mid-March, and rose to 1.3 in April. Among hospitalized adolescents, nearly one third required intensive care unit admission, and 5% required invasive mechanical ventilation; no associated deaths occurred….. Read more at this link:

6 Ways Covid Vaccine Hesitancy is Harming Children (Pedcast by Doc Smo and Sonya Corina Williams)

Photo Compliments of Eleanor’s Family


As things stand right now, there are only two ways out of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic: wait until everyone has gotten infected resulting in about 3,500,000 Americans dying and countless others becoming chronically ill or protect our population and children as soon as possible by means of a vaccine. You see, your children’s health and well-being depend on adults opting for vaccination. Stay tuned and I will explain why.

Musical Introduction

Decision Time is Here

As they say where I live, it’s time to fish or cut bait. We are fortunate to have two highly effective vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 and more in the pipeline that will likely be coming soon. We know the vaccines work and we know they are free from serious short term side effects. As of the time of this writing, which is only a month into the U.S. vaccine campaign, illness numbers in my community of Charlotte N.C. are already starting to fall quite significantly, especially among the health care workers who have been the first to get vaccinated. If you are part of the rest of the population, soon it will time for you to make the big decision… will you get vaccinated? I’m begging you to say yes to that question. In fact, I am making this podcast with the intention of using my name and my influence to convince you to go ahead and get vaccinated as soon as it is available to you. Let me explain to you why this is so important, especially for children.

Children are Being Harmed by SARS-CoV 2

As you are probably aware, children aren’t dying in large numbers from this coronavirus pandemic thank goodness but they are being harmed, nevertheless. Here is a short list of what many children are facing as a consequence of the pandemic- sleep problems, bodily complaints secondary  worry, depressive thoughts if not outright depression, as well as anxiety and panic attacks.  We also know that not being in school has led to other things that can harm children- fewer reports to social services of child abuse and neglect by teachers, fewer meals being provided at school to children whose families are struggling to feed them, and less time in the secure, safe, enriched environment that schools provide for a child. And what about the loss of quality education and social time in school? How does a child make up for a year of subpar learning and socialization with their peers? The answer is that they likely can’t. Time will tell what effects this has on today’s children, but I as a pediatrician who has spent his adult life with children of all ages, I can tell you that the loss of in-school time for today’s children won’t be positive for most and is likely to be devastating for many.

What the Numbers Show

So, you can see that the quickest way back to normalcy for children is through the administration of effective Covid-19 vaccines to at least 70% of the adult population. But unfortunately, for numerous reasons, acceptance of Covid vaccines by Americans is lukewarm at best. Here is a chart with the numbers from a recent survey published in Scientific American.


What is Causing People to Hesitate about Vaccination?

So, what is causing people to hesitate about getting one of the Covid-19 vaccines? What is at the basis of their hesitancy? I’m sure you have heard of some of the wild rumors going around- the vaccine may, instead of preventing the disease, actually infect you or, the vaccine actually contains a microchip that allows the government to track your whereabouts through cells towers or, this is corporate America’s way of using the U.S. population for biologic experiments. I’ve got to tell you; I haven’t heard so much paranoid thought since I was a medical student interviewing schizophrenics on the locked psych ward. Has the stress of the pandemic, with the help of social media, tipped a large segment of our population into  paranoid thinking, devoid of attachment to reality? Or, are we simply being bombarded by confusing messages that are generating fear and causing a paralysis of rational thought. We have well done science, completed by some of the best minds of our time, that shows us that the currently available vaccines are safe and extremely effective. What is the problem?

How Do We Get Vaccine The Vaccine Hesitant to Get a Shot?

So how do we get past vaccine hesitancy and end this pandemic? How can we get 70% of the population immune to SARS-CoV-2 without having to watch 70,000,000 of our fellow citizens get seriously ill or dying? We can’t let that happen to them and we must do everything in our power to convince the “vaccine hesitant” to get vaccinated. With that goal in mind, I have made up a list of things we can do to get life back to normal:

  1. We  need to have influencers like movie stars, athletes, doctors, teachers, community leaders, and politicians show confidence in the vaccines by demonstrating confidence in the vaccines and even getting vaccinated in public.
  2. And here is a suggestion that has been shown to be effective and increasing the rate of flu vaccination- don’t wait for people to arrange a vaccine but rather make them appointments for their vaccine and remind them frequently to follow through. This strategy has been shown to be amazing effectively at increasing vaccine rates for influenza. In other words, make people opt out rather than opt in. For those having difficulty making a decision, where the decision is a close one, this may be very helpful.
  3. We need a national messaging campaign reminding everyone that the vaccines are safe and effective and that getting vaccinated is a lifesaving act, not only for themselves but for their fellow citizens.
  4. What to do about misinformation on social media…well, frankly I don’t know.
  5. Overcoming the reluctance of minority communities to get vaccinated will require special finesse. I personally believe that reluctance in these communities can be overcome if, again, a large number of the influencers, in those communities, stepped up and put out pro vaccination messages.
  6. Confidence can be built by giving the American public the most transparent information available about the vaccines that are in use, including any problems that may arise.  This is crucial for vaccine success and will be important at building trust in the vaccines and the companies and agencies developing and administering those vaccines.
  7. We can all encourage our friends and families to get out and get vaccinated. Maybe we do that by helping them find vaccine administration sites, helping them make an appointment, by telling them how easy vaccination actually is, or even by helping them arrange transportation.
  8. And finally, listen to three year old Eleanor explains what happens when you do get a Covid-19 shot!


So that’s my plea. We have a short window of time to roll up our sleeves and take control of a terrible situation. I’ve been fortunate enough to get a Covid-19 vaccine already as have most of my healthcare worker colleagues. I still haven’t heard any vaccinated doctors or nurses regret their decision. Soon it will be your turn. Please think beyond yourself and make the effort to get vaccinated. Everyone will benefit, especially our children.



Thank you for joining me for this important episode of Portable Practical Pediatrics. Let’s all do our part and put this terrible pandemic behind us. The choice is clear, we either become immune to SARS-CoV-2 via vaccination or by allowing it to slowly roll through our population with devastating consequences for everyone. For me, it’s a no brainer. I hope it is for you too. Please start today and make the effort to get everyone you know who is old enough to put an end to Covid-19  by choosing to vaccinate. This is Dr. Paul Smolen also known as Doc Smo, hoping you don’t hesitate, to go ahead and vaccinate. Until next time.

Many thanks to Dr. Monica Miller, Dr. Charlotte Rouchouze for their help in writing this pedcast. And of course, a very special thanks to Eleanor’s family for allowing me to share her medical wisdom.



4 Pediatric Studies Every Parent Needs to Know About (Archived Pedcast)



Welcome, I am Dr. Paul Smolen, also known as Doc Smo and this is Portable Practical Pediatrics. Every once in a while I like to give my listeners a glimpse of what is new in pediatric research that can translate into practical knowledge.  I’m not talking about new high tech treatments for exotic diseases but rather new information that most parents can use in their everyday parenting. So here goes with a conversation about four, high quality, peer reviewed articles that I think you will find interesting. Stay engaged, stay informed, and of course, stay tuned.  Today’s pedcast is brought to you by audible, the new way to digest books. For me, Audible has become my preferred method of exploring books, whether I am cutting the grass or driving in the car. Expand your world today by subscribing to audible. Just hit the link that accompanies this podcast to get started.

Photo compliments of Pixabay

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What Would the Perfect Covid-19 Vaccine Look Like? (Pedcast by Doc Smo and Sonya Corina Williams)

Most experts think that the only way out of the Covid-19 Pandemic is a vaccine of which there are currently 165 in development. Ready or not, someday soon, you will have to make a decision about whether to get one of these vaccines. Will you have the knowledge and understanding to make that decision when that time comes?  I certainly hope so and maybe I can help. Stay tuned while and Sonya and I get you up to speed with SARS-CoV-2 vaccine knowledge circa August 2020.

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