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Vaccination is best defense for U.S.

There have been some polls taken recently which indicate that up to 25% of Americans surveyed were not planning on being vaccinated. That is hard for me to understand.

When I was a kid, getting vaccinated was an automatic thing in our family. Whether it was for measles, small pox or polio — my Mom made sure that we were always vaccinated. The same was true in the military. Before we shipped out to Vietnam, we were all lined up and given a bevy of shots with a big gun pushed against our shoulder which injected various vaccines into us using high pressure, compressed air.

Nobody complained that it was a big hoax or associated with some kind of deep government conspiracy. We knew that it was being done to protect us against death from various infectious diseases that we could encounter in Southeast Asia.

Of course, there have always been people who, for religious reasons, have rejected vaccination under the aegis that God will take care of them. Yet, I was brought up in a very religious, Christian family and we were taught that God had given mankind the brains and ability to try and conquer deadly diseases. Being vaccinated was our civic and God-given duty.

There have also been polls indicating that the vaccine “deniers” or “anti-vaxxers” tend to be more Republican than Democrat. Who would ever have thought that one’s political affiliation would influence their health choices? Yet, that seems to be the case.

For those who may see vaccination in political terms, I think a recently published interview with Dr. Scott Gottlieb would be beneficial reading. Gottlieb is a former Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration appointed by President Trump, and he is concerned about the unwillingness of some people to be vaccinated. Though he hopes that COVID-19 can be eradicated as was accomplished with polio and smallpox: “We don’t seem to be prepared to do it and take the collective action that it’s going to require.”

“It will require people exercising some civic virtue to get vaccinated even if they individually feel they’re at low risk of infection,” he said. “Because even if they’re personally low risk they can still get and transmit the infection, and you can’t eradicate a disease where you have a significant contingent of people who are going to continue to catch and transmit it.”

COVID-19 is a public health crisis. Just as with measles, small pox and polio–we can conquer it. But to do so, those reluctant citizens will need to “exercise their civic virtue and get vaccinated.”

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.

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