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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: I cared for polio patients in iron lungs, and I’m sick of anti-vaxxers

A photo from the 1940s or ‘50s shows a ward at Rancho Los Amigos Hospital in Downey filled with polio victims in iron lungs.
A photo from the 1940s or ‘50s shows a ward at Rancho Los Amigos Hospital in Downey filled with polio victims in iron lungs.
(Rancho Los Amigos Hospital)

To the editor: Thanks to Dr. Nina Shapiro for her letter to the editor on the importance of vaccinating children.

If those who are so opposed to vaccines had to care for small children who were in an iron lung or dying of measles encephalitis, it might give them pause. I have cared for these children.

I’m an 83-year-old retired registered nurse who did a one-month rotation in polio respirator nursing. This was at a hospital endowed by actress Helen Hayes, whose daughter died of polio.

My patience with anti-vaccine folks has not just worn thin — it is worn out.

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Audray Johnson, Riverside

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To the editor: Opponents of the bill in California to crack down on doctors who exempt high numbers of public school children from mandatory vaccines say doing so violates the principles of personal choice in medicine.

No government should force people to undergo medical procedures that might improve their own health or that of their children. But when the personal choice is such that it endangers other members of the community, then the community’s safety overrides personal choice.

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For example, refusing to have your child vaccinated against measles not only creates the possibility that your child will catch the disease, but it also might result in your child with measles unintentionally causing someone else’s baby, too young for the vaccine, to die from measles.

Dr. Cyril Barnert, Los Angeles


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