Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

Home · Articles · News · Other Opinions · The Value of...
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The Value of Vaccinations

Rebecca Peterson - March 2nd, 2009
As a mother of four young children, I am alarmed by the current pertussis alert, which is due to low vaccination rates in our area.
Vaccination programs suffer when people romanticize nature. A few “natural but deadly” threats include: lead poisoning, polio and violent weather. Yet we protect against these. In the auto state we drive a lot. Not exactly natural. So I don’t buy the “natural” argument. Making it to age 60 is not natural. It is only thanks to nutrition, clean water, vaccines, and skilled surgeons that Americans live so long. Life expectancy in Kenya? Fifty-three. Botswana? Thirty-three.
Vaccine programs also suffer due to anti-government and anti-science sentiments, common in the extreme right and the extreme left. It is “conservative“ to privatize public health - to take this decision into one’s own hands. The issue of vaccination should not be politicized, however, because science is science and diphtheria kills people.
Some people feel that strict vaccination laws (which require public school children to vaccinate with little exception) are “socialist” and “oppressive.” What I find to be socialist and oppressive is polio. Talk about an iron fist! And let’s not forget the complementary iron lung.
In an urban area, there’s no need for conversations such as: “Is polio crippling and/or fatal?” (Yes.) or, “Is polio still endemic in six countries?” (Yes.) This is because city-dwellers are seated between people from Ghana and Peru every day on their subway commute.
Arthur Allen’s article, “Bucking the Herd,” suggests that “vaccination is a victim of its own success.” There’s a reason that diseases are less common today (at least in the U.S.). One nurse in the article explains that “when they’re real little, babies don’t whoop, they just stop breathing,” in reference to a baby who died after contracting pertussis from unvaccinated siblings. Another practitioner addresses parents who choose against vaccination: “That’s not avant-garde. That’s not enlightened.”
I find that failure to vaccinate one‘s children is myopic, not hip or natural. It is also trendy and irresponsible. Our kids are global citizens. Vaccination should be a group decision, not an individual one. The do-it-yourself attitude is dangerous when it comes to contagious disease. A truly “informed” decision must include the advice of global public health experts and epidemiologists.
Many parents base immunization decisions on anecdotes, fake science, and Internet misinformation. Look no further than Dr. Andrew Wakefield, who was recently caught manipulating data in an effort to link autism to vaccines. Notice that the billions of vaccine success “anecdotes” are ignored. Sadly, this is a polarized issue, which doesn’t help anyone in the end.
Blaming vaccines is akin to blaming seatbelts, sunscreen, or chemotherapy. Are people occasionally injured by these? Yes. Do we still use them for protection?
Why is it that occasionally even a vaccinated person contracts one of these diseases? As with any medicine, vaccines are not 100 percent effective (per individual). With claims that unvaccinated and vaccinated people are at equal risk during an outbreak, try to look at percentages, not numbers. Vaccines are effective when everyone shares the responsibility, the risk, and the benefit. It’s based on the idea that everyone is participating. Vaccination is the social contract.
Unlike Michigan, New York has very strict laws on vaccination and (lo and behold!) fewer outbreaks. Loose laws equal outbreaks. Communicable diseases prey upon unvaccinated populations. Therefore, states that have loose laws (unvaccinated pockets) see outbreaks. Unfortunately, it is strict laws and deadly outbreaks that compel people to vaccinate. Michigan has one of the highest exemptor rates (a result of loose laws).
Is there some risk in vaccinating? Sure. This is exactly why the parents who take that risk (by participating) may resent those who don’t. If polio stays at bay, then it is because the majority of us are vaccinated. Vaccinated adults and children (the herd) protect those people who cannot vaccinate - including newborns and patients with compromised immune systems.
The anti-vaccine movement asks us to “think twice” about vaccines. Listen, twice is not enough. Two is a sorry number of times to think about anything, let alone history’s greatest scientific discovery.
Myth: Contagious disease will never reach Northern Michigan. Just because I may not travel a lot, does not stop other people from visiting my area. International flights take off every minute of the day. Detroit Metro, Chicago O’Hare, Ann Arbor, Lansing, NMC, local farms -- these all have international traffic. In some areas, the migrant populations have had better immunization rates than the local, resident population. Arrogant, right? Read: “We locals don’t have to vaccinate, but, hey - can you foreigners go get your shots, por favor?”
The important focus is not on the people who break the social contract, but, rather, on the two million children who die needlessly each year of vaccine-preventable disease. Either you support the global eradication of these diseases or you don’t.
Please support your local public health department, who used your tax dollars tracking pertussis recently. Thank you for vaccinating.

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