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Opinion

Readers React: Perhaps more parents would support vaccination if people were still suffering from polio

Chelsea Lydell holds her son, Joseph, 4, as she joins hundreds of others waiting to get into a legis
Parents who oppose a bill in the California Legislature to give more authority to state public health officials in deciding on vaccination exemptions wait to get into a committee hearing in Sacramento on April 24.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

To the editor: My mother contracted polio in 1949. I think about what her life and that of thousands of other polio victims would be like if the polio vaccine had come into use before 1955. (“A new skirmish in the California vaccination wars breaks out. Science will prevail,” column, April 26)

To the parents who oppose a bill in California to reduce the number of child exemptions and who state, “I have a healthy unvaccinated child,” I say that your child is only healthy because the diseases that he or she may have contracted have been curtailed or eradicated because of vaccines. Your child may have contracted polio, smallpox, measles or other debilitating and deadly diseases in a world where vaccines were never created.

I thank researchers who have worked to reduce the threat posed by deadly diseases. My mother loved to dance, but polio robbed her of that joy.

Kate Pecarovich, Redondo Beach

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To the editor: Columnist Robin Abcarian correctly points out that parents who oppose vaccines “are often surprisingly well-educated, considering the pseudoscience and unfounded claims they are willing to embrace.”

Indeed, many of them are critical of the deniers and conspiracy theorists who refuse to accept the overwhelming scientific evidence of man-made climate change. Yet they turn right around and ignore the overwhelming medical evidence that vaccines do not cause autism or other diseases and actually save lives.

I fear that these people would have us return to the Dark Ages.

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Steve Mehlman, Beaumont

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To the editor: I don’t support the anti-vaxxers, but I think important points are being missed.

Public health mavens really messed up when they said measles had been eradicated. If a disease has been declared eradicated, it’s easy to think you don’t need to be vaccinated against it. Smallpox is gone and we no longer vaccinate against that, and that is simply not the case with measles.

The term “eradicated” created a false sense of security. How about using “abeyance” instead?

Similarly, calling something a “childhood” disease implies that it’s natural and not really a big deal. Labeling these illnesses ”recalcitrant” diseases would be better.

Sheridan West, Sherman Oaks

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