Letters from our readers

A patriotic decision to protect friends and family


To the Editor:

I have been hearing from many a disgust for getting the covid vaccine. Excuses run the ranges of political views to fears of side effects.

It has been almost 60 years ago, but I remember getting lined up in grade school and getting a variety of vaccines. I remember one in particular where they poked you in the arm with a needle and then covered it with a taped on plastic bubble, I believe it was for smallpox.

It seems the United States has a long history with the disease of smallpox. George Washington contracted smallpox on a trip to Barbados as a young man. Washington became very ill and was sick for a month and nearly died.

In those days some smallpox outbreaks had a 50-percent fatality rate. His face was pock-marked from the illness the rest of his life. Just like the vaccine scar most of us baby boomers wear on our arms from the vaccine we got in those lines at school.

In the fall of 1775, 10,000 American troops marched on Canada. British troops had a herd immunity from smallpox since it was so prevalent in Europe, American troops did not. One-third of the invading American army soon became sick, and Major General John Thomas died of smallpox during the retreat the following spring. The invasion of Canada was a failure. George Washington knew that smallpox was one of the big reasons.

In 1777 George Washington used a process called Variolation to keep his troops from getting smallpox. Dried small pox scabs were blown into the nose of an individual who then contracted a mild form of the disease. Upon recovery, the individual was immune to smallpox.

Between 1 to 2-percent of those variolated died. Washington did this even though at the time Variolation was not legal in all the colonies. The simplest debate at that time argued that Variolation was ungodly because it was not mentioned specifically in the Bible. Inoculation was also viewed by some as a direct affront to God’s innate right to determine who was to die, and how and when death would occur.

Several believed smallpox outbreaks were well-merited punishments for the sins of those who contracted the disease. Washington’s actions most likely saved the army and the future independence of our country. I really don’t remember the exact kinds of other immunizations that I got as a child in those lines but, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and polio were among them.

In the 1920s before a vaccine for diphtheria was developed, 100,000 to 200,000 cases and 13,000 to 15,000 deaths were reported annually in America. I don’t ever remember hearing of anybody dying from diphtheria. And, I suspect the reason is that in America, from 1996 to 2018, only 14 cases and one death were reported.

Thirty-five-thousand people a year used to get polio, many were crippled for life, like our president Franklin Roosevelt who was one of the victims.

I could site many, many more statistics but in 1920 before wide spread use of vaccines started, the average lifespan was 54-years-old. Today it is 78 years in the U.S. A great improvement which would have never happened without the technology of vaccines. Many of those vaccines were invented in America.

The CDC had the reputation as the world’s leader in disease prevention, at least until our political upheaval over the COVID-19 pandemic, where politicians with no medical training regularly tried to control the advice and guidelines of the CDC, for what ever reasons, that I could not understand. It takes a long time to build a reputation, and only a few mistakes to tear one down.

And while some in the media keep telling our population we have the greatest health care in the world, and it is the most expensive by far, are we really getting what we pay for? Thirty-eight countries have a longer life span average than we do.

The other point I would like to make is this: viruses and bacteria were around long before humans. Those organisms live in us, attack us and sometimes kill us.

The human race is the biggest population of large mammals on the earth. All living things want to keep living, from you and I, from the smallest bug, to microorganisms, all life has the will to keep living. COVID-19 jumped from other animals to humans. Wonder why?

Why not feed off the most numerous large animal on the planet, that has the ability to travel anywhere on the planet in just days. So my take on the future is that, COVID-19 is not the last pandemic by any means.

So not wanting to make anybody mad, but when you stand with your assault rifle, and wrap yourself in the American flag and chant make America great again, maybe take a hint from George Washington, and all those baby-boomer kids who stood in line and fought against disease and suffering, as well as making our country great, by getting and giving vaccinations.

The other thing is stop taking for granted that the health and security of our country is a given, people built it up, people can tear it down. Make sure you are making decisions based on fact not [expletive deleted]. I think the example set by George Washington says that I made the patriotic decision, and got the vaccine, to protect myself, family and friends.

Jimmy Brandon, Bland, Mo.


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