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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: Dr. Bob Sears’ vaccine skepticism is dangerous. Why give him a platform?

Dr. Bob Sears
Pediatrician Bob Sears, author of “The Vaccine Book,” at his family practice in Capistrano Beach.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: It is sad that widespread vaccination is even debatable. (“Dr. Bob Sears’ views on vaccines have inspired loyal followers — and a crush of criticism,” Sept. 3)

The smallpox vaccine, given to every infant born before 1975, alone contained more antigens, or “immune load” (a term used to frighten parents who haven’t gone to medical school), than all of the current vaccinations recommended between birth and 2 years of age combined.

If your parents were born before World War II, ask them how many of their neighbors contracted polio. If you have children, and their pediatrician is older than Dr. Bob Sears, one of the anti-vaccination movement’s favorite physicians, ask them what it was like to fear that their waiting rooms might be filled with such contagious, now vaccine-preventable, life-threatening or organ-threatening illnesses.

But don’t ask Sears about how vaccines work. Vaccination is a public health decision. Your choosing not to vaccinate your child impacts not only them, but also countless others.

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Choice is a big topic these days — women should choose what to do with their bodies, especially when it comes to reproduction. Parents can make personal choices for their kids that affect only their child, such as whether to wear a bike helmet. But vaccine choice is not personal. It is a public health issue.

Until people realize this, the banter from the “Dr. Bobs” of the nation will continue to spread. Giving him a platform in a major newspaper enables his message to become, well, viral.

Nina Shapiro, M.D., Los Angeles

The writer is a professor of head and neck surgery at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine.

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To the editor: I get that “Dr. Bob” can be quite charming on a superficial level. He comes from an impressive family of doctors, all concerned with maintaining their good name.

Perhaps that explains why this article was so sympathetic.

However, it shouldn’t take that many words to say the truth, which is that Sears is very nice to people who pay him to tell them what they want to hear but not so much to anyone else.

Left out of the article was the time that he compared parents who want to avoid getting vaccines for their kids with Jews trying to avoid being murdered by the Nazis. He uses historical atrocities as cheap props, plays on his clients’ fears and endangers public health for his own profit.

This mom is not impressed.

Katherine Falk, Oakland

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To the editor: I find something wrong with Sears’ continual insistence that he is neutral regarding vaccines because there is no proof they do not cause autism.

This is peculiar because Sears himself, as well as his defenders, go out of their way to paint him as a conscientious, open-minded, analytical man who only responds to the science. Yet even a freshman in an introductory course on logic can tell you there is simply no way to prove a negative.

I would expect more from a physician who says he only follows the science.

Stephan Teodorovich, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Sears’ opinion about vaccines is as ill-informed as Trump’s opinion on climate change.

Victoria I. Paterno, M.D., Los Angeles


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