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  1. Letters to the Editor

As a doctor I wonder how smart people become anti-vaxxers | Sunday's letters

Published Jun. 21

The article on vaccination was well done. In my 50 years as a practicing physician, I am still baffled by the mindset that ignores valid science and replaces it with unscientific nonsense. And the people who fall into this category are often intelligent, educated and generally nice people. So what makes them ignore science and put their faith in often dangerous misinformation?

I am not a psychiatrist or psychologist, but it seems to me that this situation requires accentuation of a number of basic human emotions, and among these two stand out: fear and paranoia. But what makes these people use the fruits of science in everyday life — cellphones, computers, air travel, etc., yet go back centuries into a nonscientific period when it comes to health issues?

Many years ago I had a patient, the wife of an airline pilot, ask me what I thought about "alternative" treatment for her malignancy. I told her to ask her husband what he thought about alternatives to the instrument landing system. These people have found a way to divorce health science from "other" science. There is no good reason for this.

The sadness and frustration over child health issues is very understandable. We always look for a cause when bad things happen. The well-known fallacy "post hoc, ergo propter hoc" (after this, therefore because of this) seems inherent to the human condition, but such reasoning is often fallacious. This is why rigid scientific trials exist.

The availability of previously unimaginable amounts of data are now available on the internet, which is both wonderful and dangerous. With regard to medicine, we must adopt the attitude of "caveat emptor" (let the buyer beware). There is no sign to tell you whether your internet search is yielding treasure or trash.

The famous physician William Osler summed up the anti-vaccination stance in 1915. He proposed taking 10 vaccinated and 10 unvaccinated people with him to work in the next epidemic. Osler said, "And I will make this promise — neither to jeer or to jibe when they catch the disease, but to look after them as brothers; and for the three or four who are certain to die I will try to arrange the funerals with all the pomp and ceremony of an anti-vaccination demonstration."

Have we learned nothing in 100 years?

Dr. John Clarke, St. Petersburg

Anti-vaxxers pick fringe over syringe | June 16

Why would parents do that?

I'm an old geezer. I had most of the childhood diseases except for mumps and scarlet fever. Until I was an adult, the only vaccine I ever had was for smallpox. I remember having whooping cough, chicken pox, both types of measles, pneumonia and a few I probably forgot. The whooping cough was horrible with the hacking cough. The one type of measles required two weeks isolated in a darkened room, not to mention feeling like …well, you know. I do not know why any loving parent would put a child through that. The pneumonia was treated with penicillin, and I was fortunate enough to be one of the first civilians to receive it after World War II was over.

I have also read that pockets of unvaccinated people pose a threat to others simply because no system is perfect and it just adds further pressure to others when their kids get sick.

Bruce J. Black, Clearwater

Modest cuts could save Medicare from disaster | Column, June 16

Fix it by funding it

I would bet John Early is healthy, has a good job with excellent medical benefits and spends most of the day in a chair.

Raising the age to qualify for Medicare would be a disaster for so many hard-working low- or even middle-income people. Most low-wage jobs involve physical labor or standing all day on your feet (think retail or restaurants). They often have no or poor medical insurance today. By 65 years of age many are already "retired." Medicare is a lifeline to good insurance and medical care.

He also wants to penalize the disabled. While some people who qualify for Social Security disability probably are able to work, I hear many more stories of disabled individuals who struggled for years to get disability and, eventually, Medicare.

The simple solution is to raise our taxes, not cut them, and give more money to fund Medicare.

Judith Manowitz, Tampa

Include all in the solution

The writer's solutions to saving and preserving Medicare did not include the cost for medical services or prescription drugs.

The article almost suggests the eligibility, premiums and co-pay increase in order to allow medical care and Big Pharma to continue over-charging to keep stockholders and wallets healthy. A procedure in the Midwest should be the same cost on the West Coast, and drugs in Canada should not be cheaper than in the United States.

If Medicare is to be preserved, allowing all citizens access to good, safe medical care, then for-profit corporations and organizations need to be included in the solution. Everyone in the sandbox needs to be equal and play nicely.

Darryl David, St. Petersburg

Sponsoring Pride irks some | June 16

It is not a sporting event

The first article I read in Sunday's paper was about Jay Chetney. How proud I am of him, and all the others who paved the way for all of us in the LGBTQ community, knows no words. I am profoundly grateful to all of those who came out in the decades before I did in 1996, so that today I get to live out, proud and married.

I then read the lead article of the local section on St. Pete Pride. I went from sitting firmly in gratefulness to utter disgust in an instant.

For the board of directors to literally sell out the suffering, pain, hardship, hatred, abuse and murder of my community and all LGBTQ people to a corporate sponsor is the ultimate betrayal to us all. We are not a spectator sporting event. We, and all that we stand for, should never be for sale.

Natalie Day, St. Petersburg

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