COVID Advice from Madison Primary Care


Julia Baugher, Contributor

With the controversy about whether or not vaccines are effective and safe, Patriot Pages decided to get the facts from Madison Primary Care. Dr. Adeel Bodla, FNP Elizabeth Hill, and FNP Kelly Baugher were extremely helpful in answering many of our students’ questions.

Should students at Bob Jones get the COVID vaccine? 

With no hesitation, Dr. Adeel Bodla answers this with ease. “We want all the students to get vaccinated. Everybody is above 12 at your school, so everyone should unless they have some immunocompromised disease. For the majority of school-going kids, if they are of age 12, we definitely encourage them to get vaccinated.

Alright so, so far what we know about covid is if you are unvaccinated, your chance of getting seriously diseased with covid is about 1 in 64. Then, getting hospitalized is 10% of that. So 1 in 6 or 1 in 8, something like that. Then if you’re vaccinated, that chance goes to 1 in 3,000- and getting admitted is about 1 in 6,000. 

Also, I don’t think kids really follow the mandate all of the time. I mean, it’s hard to keep the mask on all day at school. You guys have lunch breaks, snack breaks, social distancing is not being done properly, so it can’t be 100% effective. We can’t rely on this without the vaccination.” 

What is the Delta variant? Is it something to be afraid of?

“As this virus keeps going around, it is just going to keep mutating,” said Dr. Bodla. “It has had several hundred mutations over the course. Delta is not the only variant, but most of the other ones didn’t concern us because they’re not that virulent. They weren’t causing these severe diseases we’re seeing. This delta variant, however, is causing it. So, this is one of the clones of this virus that’s very smart. The virulence, which is the way the disease is produced, is a lot more severe than the actual coronavirus when it first came out. That’s why we need to be scared of it. So far it just keeps going and going, and if you look at the hospitalization rates right now- they’re even higher than they were at the peak of covid.”

Why do you think there’s so much resentment against the vaccine?

“We are in a bit of a bad shape as a state, it became more political than as a science/disease issue,” Dr. Bodla continued. “So, that’s where it went south. There’s a lot of misinformation out there. I have a lot of patients who are terrified of this mRNA vaccine- this is not a new technology. We have had it. This vaccine is going to protect us from the disease. And, even if you fall into the 5% that gets it, your symptoms won’t be as scary. You probably won’t end up in the hospital, and even if you ended up having pneumonia or some other disease and were hospitalized for it, your symptoms won’t be so bad that you have to end up on a ventilator. When that machine starts breathing for someone, it’s out of our control. It takes away the drive from the respiratory center, the part of the brain that controls breathing. I’ve had previously healthy patients not make it after being on the ventilator for a month. You know, they improve a little bit, so we try and get them off of the machine, and then out of nowhere, their oxygen levels drop. So, bottom line is, the vaccine works and there’s no reason to resent it or deny it.”

Many teens believe that their youth and health are enough protection from COVID. Is this true?

“This is definitely not true,” FNP Elizabeth Hill stated. “There’s a couple of reasons why statistically yeah if you’re a teenager and you get COVID there’s a big chance you’ll only get sick for a couple of days and get better. But there are a couple of pieces to that the first one is long covid. What it is are these chronic symptoms from COVID like fatigue, shortness of breath, headache, losing your sense of smell and taste that are ongoing for weeks or months and that don’t discriminate based on age. It doesn’t say, ‘Well, that’s only for the elderly, that’s only for little kids.’ It can affect anybody and we haven’t really figured out why and we also haven’t figured out how long it lasts on people. So even if you’re a perfectly healthy teenager, no health problems at all, if you get COVID, there’s a chance you can get this long COVID. It doesn’t sound like it’s that big of a deal, but, when you think about your quality of life- what makes life worth living- If you can’t move around or play sports without becoming short of breath, you’re tired all of the time, or you can’t smell or taste your favorite foods, it starts to take away things we love and our happiness. 

Another part of it is, even if you’re healthy and you feel just fine, there’s still the possibility that you can spread it to others that aren’t as lucky. There’s a chance that you can spread the disease with the vaccine as well, but the likelihood is much less. So, by getting vaccinated you’re protecting yourself from long covid, and others too.”

Should vaccinated people continue to wear a mask?

“My opinion right now is: yes,” Hill stated. “The CDC is a big factor for us when making choices regarding COVID, and they put out a recommendation that, based on where vaccinated people live, says whether or not they should wear a mask. So, when they look at where you live, they’re determining how much covid is still being spread in your community. They’re classified by low-level, moderate-level, and high-level. So, if you’re in a high-level area you should still be wearing a mask. Unfortunately, I believe every single county in Alabama is still considered to be high-level. It’s possible if we were to get more people vaccinated, we could get our numbers down and that would change. But at this point in time, I’d certainly wear a mask in public places- It’s just to keep yourself safe.”

What do you have to say to students choosing not to get vaccinated?

“I would say that I understand that it’s scary, COVID is scary. Having people that you don’t really know online telling you to get it or not to get it is scary and it’s a hard decision to make.” Despite her knowledge in the area, Hill still seemed to understand how frightening the vaccine can seem. “But, what I would encourage teenagers to do is talk to their family doctor or their family nurse practitioner. That is the source that’s there for you that you can actually trust anybody who’s and reputable in those areas will tell you it’s safe to get the vaccine and will encourage you to do so. I hope after they have a conversation with someone like that they feel better about getting the vaccine. Like Dr. Bodla was saying, people think it’s this brand new technology- it’s really not. It’s been around for decades and is very safe to get when getting COVID in a lot of ways is a gamble. “

Should someone who’s already had COVID get the vaccine?

FNP Kelly Baugher seems to have no doubt when she states, “Absolutely. Even though you have immunity that you’ve developed and your body has built up antibodies to fight the virus, we know now that your body’s immune response to the vaccine will be even more effective than if we are only exposed to the virus and get sick from the virus itself. Not only if we’ve been infected with covid, that we need to get vaccinated. We also know that we will also need boosters in the future, and studies are showing that in around 8 months our antibodies start to drop a little bit. To keep our antibodies high we need those booster vaccinations.”

How is the COVID vaccine any different from other vaccines?

“Before the COVID vaccination, we had vaccines that were either alive virus-like Varicella or Chickenpox, and then we have other vaccinations that are non-live vaccines like many of the Flu vaccinations. The way that the COVID vaccine is different is that it’s not using an actual cell, but it’s using an mRNA segment. I think a lot of people were afraid or hesitant initially to get this vaccination because unfortunately there was a lot of misinformation about the way the vaccine was made. Some people even believe it’s capable of altering one’s DNA- which is not true.” Baugher is quick to bust this myth. “This messenger RNA never enters the nucleus of our cell. The way it works is, it is injected into our body and then our messenger cells recognize the segment and activate our immune response. The vaccine is only in our body for about 72 hours and then it’s completely gone. At that point, our body is just building antibodies to protect us against the virus. This vaccine is very safe and effective, even if people get sick after being vaccinated- the vast majority of them will stay out of the hospital, not get seriously ill, and they won’t lose their life to this terrible disease.”