Readers React: That night a child died of diphtheria: A nurse on the importance of vaccines

Dr. Marti Baum, left, a pediatrician, joined others urging lawmakers to approve a proposal to give s
Doctors urge lawmakers to approve a bill giving state public health officials instead of local doctors the power to decide which children can skip their shots before attending school, at a hearing in Sacramento on April 24.
(Rich Pedroncelli / AP)

To the editor: As a mother of four and a registered nurse, I’m a firm believer in the benefits of vaccination. Many of the parents mentioned in your article about a state bill to tighten restrictions on vaccination exemptions probably don’t know anyone who was affected by polio.

I was working in San Antonio during the 1970 diphtheria epidemic, and at first many of our physicians failed to recognize the disease because they hadn’t seen a case before. Our pediatric ward was full of sickened children, many of whom had to return with a recurrence of the disease after going back home for lack of receiving their booster vaccine.

To this day, I can recall a particular young boy who we saved only to lose his life a year later for lack of receiving the required booster. That night we struggled to save him still haunts me.

I hope that the current measles outbreak serves as a wake-up call to anti-vaccination parents. These people are lucky to live in a country where those of us who vaccinate provide the “herd protection” that makes them and their loved ones safer.

Geneviève Clavreul, Pasadena


To the editor: Vaccinations are important, but they are not 100% effective.

So, if my vaccinated child becomes ill because of some parents’ failure to immunize their children, they should pay for the required medical care. This should cover my lost time at work and the long-term care needed if my child gets brain inflammation and is permanently disabled.

The physician who signed off on the vaccine exemption should be liable for malpractice. If these parents are are true believers, they should take a vow of poverty and serve the needy, because if my child requires lifelong care, I will surely be driven into poverty through no fault of my own.

David Eckhous, Long Beach

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