Letters to the Editor: This could be why your anti-vaccine letter wasn’t published

A man in a crowd holds a sign that says No to mandatory vaccines, my body, my choice
People participate in a march organized by the anti-vaccine group Firefighters 4 Freedom in downtown Los Angeles on Monday.
(Los Angeles Times)

It’s a question I’ve been asked a few times in the last month or so: Why aren’t you printing letters from readers explaining why they’ve declined to get a COVID-19 vaccine, especially in light of the hordes of writers admonishing police officers and firefighters who refuse the shot?

Generally I am reluctant to explain why something wasn’t published, because answering why I didn’t do something is, from a logical standpoint, inherently fraught.

But given the many months of letters on vaccines, here’s my answer: Close to all of the letters submitted for publication favor vaccination, and the letters expressing skepticism or outright denialism often contain misinformation or statements that are wildly misleading without the proper context. For example, some readers have cited what appear to be the frighteningly high numbers of problem cases in the federal Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). That system, however, is a repository for suspected injuries to which literally anyone can report. It exists to help experts spot patterns that may indicate a problem, not to say that a particular vaccine is causing injury, and it certainly doesn’t conclude or come close to implying that thousands of people have died from a COVID-19 shot.


This isn’t to say we haven’t printed letters siding with the vaccine-resistant firefighters and police officers. We have indeed published letters from people who believe the government oversteps its authority with mandates, eliciting howls of protest in response. But these letters are vastly outnumbered by those from writers who want firefighters, police officers and other public employees to comply with mandates.

Whether this explanation satisfies aggrieved commentators remains to be seen. It may end up reinforcing my reluctance to answer why I didn’t print someone’s letter.


To the editor: A perk of being a middle school counseling trainee is having the time to listen to frustrated students forbidden by parents from getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

I have talked to students who were delivered the Los Angeles Unified School District’s ultimatum: Get your first shot by Nov. 21 or prepare to log on to online school starting in 2022. Inconsolable students have told me they want the vaccine, but their parents refuse to allow them.

California already allows minors 12 or older to receive medication for sexually transmitted infections (including vaccinations) and reproductive and mental health treatment without parental consent. However, students depend on parental consent and presence to vaccinate against COVID-19.

Ironically, the students want to follow public health guidelines and prevent life-threatening illness, but they cannot. There are serious ramifications for the district here.

Ready or not, back to online school we go.

Sana Khouri Accad, La Crescenta


To the editor: I received my first and second Moderna COVID-19 shots at Dodger Stadium; both were administered by first responders with the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Had I known that these public safety officers might not have believed in the efficacy of the vaccine, I would not have waited more than three hours each time to be vaccinated by these disbelievers in science.

How many lives were affected because these first responders were in close contact with people? I would not call them public safety officers. That would be a misnomer.

Ken Lautman, Los Angeles


To the editor: If we are paying tens of millions of dollars because of police officer and firefighter absenteeism and required quarantines, the solution is simple — vaccine requirements without religious exemptions (not required under a recent Supreme Court ruling) for all uniformed city officers.

The fact that we have paid and will continue to pay exorbitant sums because of uniformed refuseniks puts a damper on the argument that the city will lose a lot of money if so many LAFD and LAPD personnel resign in protest of the vaccine mandate.

If they choose to leave instead of follow a lawful order, they clearly misunderstand the oath they took when they became public servants.

Peter Dekom, Beverly Hills


To the editor: “Serving with courage, integrity and pride,” says the LAFD’s motto. For the LAPD, the motto says, “To protect and to serve.”

These are noble goals for which its members often strive. We see and hear stories daily of the fortitude and dedication that these public servants exhibit.

It is doubly disturbing, then, to hear that some of these public servants are selfish enough and use “morally incomprehensible” logic (as a medical ethicist quoted in The Times put it) to disobey a logical, lawful order.

To me, it seems that the “macho” culture of these organizations (“you can’t tell me what to put in my body”) belies the fact that they are just plain afraid of a needle jab. How childish.

I am sure there are plenty of qualified people who would step into those jobs once this lot is gone.

James Severtson, Reseda


To the editor: In that photo you provide of people fighting the vaccine mandate, there are almost all men. I see one woman in that photo.

That picture tells a story of men who may have two reasons for not getting the vaccine. One, they argue it is not necessary and may be dangerous to them. Second, it appears to me that the men feel that their masculinity is challenged. They are accustomed to giving the orders, not taking them.

Why are there so few women? The women are smart enough to know that the vaccine is safe, and they have no fear of someone challenging their ego.

Barbara Schiffler, Encinitas