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Nation of Islam's misguided opposition to vaccination bill

To the editor: In 1798 in England, Edward Jenner developed the vaccine against smallpox. For 217 years, evidence-based medical science has shown the life-enhancing and life-saving benefits of immunization by vaccination. ("Nation of Islam opposes California vaccine mandate bill," June 22)

In the past, injustice against certain groups of people occurred in the name of medical research, as a Nation of Islam leader has noted, and we are profoundly sorry. But for injustice never to happen again, it is essential to have collaboration between spiritual leaders and scientists.

Also, immunity by vaccination can eradicate disease. In the 1950s at the University of London, Douglas McLean, Leslie Collier and I developed the first freeze-dried, heat-stable smallpox vaccine. It was used by the World Health Organization to eradicate smallpox between 1967 and 1977, saving 2 million lives each year.

Simon J. Simonian, MD, Pacific Palisades

The writer is former director of the immunology unit at Harvard's Peter Bent Brigham Hospital.


To the editor: Who is the Nation of Islam's Tony Muhammad, who told California legislators not to support a vaccination bill? How old is he? How much education does he have? Does he have children? Who is he to tell parents that they should not have their children vaccinated? What is his science background?

If Muhammad was born after 1950, he has no knowledge of polio and what a killer it was.

I would like to tell Muhammad just how far off base he is.

Betty Stewart, Bakersfield

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