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'Natural' remedies no substitute for vaccine

Jackson County Commissioner Colleen Roberts has a new ally in her efforts to cast doubt on the dangers of COVID-19: a naturopathic physician from Portland who advocates vitamins and “cleanses” to ward off disease.

Roberts wasted the time of the Board of Commissioners Tuesday with a videoconference presentation from Henry Ealy, who runs a business called the “Energetic Health Institute,” which among other things teaches people to argue against childhood vaccinations. Ealy claims state government statistics about COVID-19 infections are overstated, and that hospitalizations have not increased in tandem with rising infection rates, despite reports to the contrary from the Oregon Health Authority.

He told the commissioners Tuesday that older people are at greatest risk of death if they contract COVID-19, and that the best way to survive an infection is through better nutrition. He recommends a long list of supplements and vitamins.

There is nothing wrong with that advice as far as it goes. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says he takes Vitamin C and D to help keep his immune system healthy, and recommends exercising and getting enough sleep.

That’s good advice for anyone, regardless of age or underlying health conditions. Is it a substitute for getting a vaccine that can prevent a potentially deadly disease, or for wearing face masks, avoiding indoor social gatherings and frequent hand-washing? No.

But that’s the motivation behind Roberts’ invitation to Ealy. She has made it clear she does not support those scientifically recommended steps. And Ealy opposes vaccinations in general. The co-creator of the “vaccine education specialist” course at Ealy’s institute, which teaches students to cast doubt on vaccinations, says she can’t find any references to vaccines in the Bible, so they must not be part of God’s plan.

Penicillin isn’t mentioned in the Bible either (it wasn’t discovered until 1928). Perhaps we should all refuse antibiotics when we contract a bacterial infection.

The institute claims digestive tract “cleanses” and detox regimens will treat everything from high blood pressure to gum disease, and that cancer can be treated with “water fasting.” Reputable medical experts dispute those claims.

If Colleen Roberts wants to follow those practices, she’s welcome to do so. It’s a free country. But suggesting her constituents should do the same is irresponsible.

Ealy has been making similar presentations to county and government officials in Oregon and elsewhere. The Yamhill County Board of Commissioners last month adopted a resolution declaring they don’t trust all data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Oregon Health Authority.

Jackson County commissioners proposed no action following Ealy’s presentation Tuesday. Good for them.