Top pediatric physician Dr. Andrew Pavia voted ‘Utahn of the Year’ in Salt Lake Tribune’s 2021 reader poll

Photo: dr. Andrew Pavia/Twitter

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Dec. 25, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) – Dr. Andrew Pavia, one of Utah’s most trusted physicians, has spent a lifetime on the front lines against emerging infectious diseases, especially those that affect children.

On Christmas Day, an appreciative audience showed their appreciation for Pavia’s work when they voted for him as “Utahn of the Year” in the Salt Lake Tribune’s annual reader poll.

As chief of the Department of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Utah Health and director of epidemiology at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital, Pavia is known worldwide as an expert on vaccine-preventable diseases.

Since the pandemic broke out in 2020, Pavia has built a highly regarded reputation among parents in Utah for providing them with the medical information they need to best protect their families, friends and their communities.

Earlier this week, in an interview on the Bill Gephardt Show Podcast, Pavia spoke bluntly about the coming dark days, when a new wave of unvaccinated patients will be sickened by the Omicron variant and Utah’s already depleted corps of exhausted and demoralized medical workers will to overwhelm.

“I am very concerned about the next four to six weeks. I think we’re headed for a world of pain,’ said Pavia.

“It has now been a little less than four weeks that we have been aware of this variant and I think that we all have burnout in healthcare. We are frustrated, we are incredibly tired and we are facing what is likely to be another huge wave with a lot of evidence that the population in general and our political leaders are not willing to do much. So it’s a very difficult time for many of us, and especially for my colleagues in ICUs and emergency departments.”

While Pavia thinks a second wave is inevitable, he says there are things people in Utah can do to reduce their risk of infection by taking a “layered” approach to COVID protection.

The first layer of defense is to be fully vaccinated, including boosters. The second is to double the wearing of masks and social distancing, especially in closed off public settings. The third layer, Pavia suggests, is the use of rapid COVID testing and contact tracing.

While Pavia believes pill therapies announced this week by Pfizer and Merck are promising, he says it will be months before there are enough supplies to treat everyone who needs them.

Pavia says vaccines are the best way forward in managing the pandemic, but they can become ineffective if a large segment of the population refuses to get them, or adhere to other health measures, such as wearing masks or social distancing.

“We’ve given 400 plus million doses in the United States. We understand security. It’s really safe. There are no microchips in it. It won’t change fertility. It will not have any ill effects during pregnancy. We’ve really moved past the point where it’s a new vaccine, where there were a lot of unknowns. It is now one of the best-studied, best-understood vaccines we have in terms of safety.”

Watch the podcast above to hear more of Pavia’s insights into Omicron’s arrival in Utah.

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