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Michele Promaulayko smiles and leans against a window with the NYC skyline in the back.

Michele Promaulayko

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 Dr. Frank Lipman sits on a chair, cross-legged, arm resting on the back of the chair, lightly touching his other hand that is resting on his thigh. He is wearing blue denim, a blue dress shirt and a navy textured blazer and black glasses. He is smiling, showing his front teeth looking off to the side.

Dr. Frank Lipman

Chief Medical Officer at THE WELL

Updated: 12/07/2022

Dr. Frank Lipman, THE WELL Chief Medical Officer, is taking a strong stance. Listen up.

Typically, functional medicine takes a less-is-more approach to pharmaceutical interventions, preferring to look at the root cause of a health issue and deal with it holistically.

But these are not typical times. The COVID-19 pandemic is unrelenting and getting more complex. The highly contagious Delta coronavirus variant appears to spread as easily as chickenpox and cause more severe illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recently revised its mask guidelines, urging people to resume wearing masks indoors— especially in areas where transmission is increasing. Not only that, but yet another coronavirus variant — the B.1.621 — which was first detected in Columbia has made it to South Florida and now accounts for 10 percent of COVID-19 patients there.

And though it may not be failproof, vaccination is still our best defense — and the only proven way we have to control outbreaks of the novel coronavirus and protect the most at-risk citizens among us.

That’s why Frank Lipman, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of THE WELL, says employers and other institutions should move toward vaccination requirements, saying: “I’m not one for the flu vaccine. But when you have the flu, you feel terrible and have to stay home; with COVID-19, you can be asymptomatic and spread the virus.”

It’s like drunk driving — you can stay home and get drunk, but the minute you get on the road, you endanger other people’s lives.

Moreover, adds Lipman, “the efficacy of the flu vaccine can be low some years, whereas the COVID-19 vaccines appear to be pretty effective and pretty safe. Millions of people have been vaccinated with relatively few side effects.” (There have been some adverse effects, of course. But they are rare.) And there will always be exemptions, such as those for medical and religious reasons.

Still, “the benefit-to-negative ratio favors vaccination,” insisted Dr. Lipman, drawing this analogy: “It’s like drunk driving — you can stay home and get drunk, but the minute you leave and get on the road, you endanger other people’s lives. We don’t allow that.”

The point of functional medicine, says Dr. Lipman is not to be “anti-system” but to take the best of what eastern and western medicine have to offer.

Currently, we don't have a healthy population — due, in part, to inequities in our healthcare system and access to nutritious food. As a result, people suffering from metabolic diseases (chiefly, obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease) are disproportionately dying from COVID-19.

Ideally, what this global pandemic teaches us is to shift the priorities of the healthcare system to focus on foundational health through preventative medicine, not sick care. But right now, the most urgent need is to unite to protect the most vulnerable. Then, we can begin to heal — both economically and emotionally.

To book an appointment with a functional medicine doctor of THE WELL, visit here.

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