1. Letters to the Editor

Sunday's letters: Vaccinations are for the good of all

In support of vaccinations

Vaccinations benefit everyone

As parents and children prepare to return to classrooms across our state, your Florida Department of Health remains focused on maintaining the good health of students in all schools and their communities.

Through our immunization services, we are working to keep students healthy so they can attend school without interruption and focus on learning.

Immunizations are required to enroll in any Florida school. Back-to-school vaccinations help protect Florida's children and families from the spread of contagious diseases such as measles, polio and whooping cough. Vaccines help the body to recognize and fight preventable diseases and are among the safest and most cost-effective ways to prevent serious illness.

Every year, we see incredible success through immunization efforts. Healthy kids miss less school and in turn, the parents of healthy children miss less work. Even more important, because of immunizations, children are not dying from these damaging infectious diseases and our communities with vulnerable patients are safer.

To avoid any last minute surprises at the beginning of this school year, I encourage you to schedule an immunization visit with your health care professional or county health department clinic. Florida participates in the free Vaccines for Children Program, a federally funded immunization program that provides vaccines to eligible children.

It's my hope that families take advantage of the services offered by our county health departments and participate in our health initiatives. By ensuring our kids and parents stay healthy, we promote the best living for people in Florida.

Dr. John Armstrong

Surgeon General, Florida Department of Health

An exciting vision for port | Aug. 14, editorial

Climate change effects?

Aren't we lucky to live here in the Tampa Bay area?

While much of the rest of the world has begun planning for, and trying to adapt to, a future where sea level will be many feet higher than it is today, apparently this area will not be troubled by such an inconvenience. Why else would developers be planning such grand, billion-dollar waterfront investments in Tampa? Why else would the Tampa Bay Times continually ignore the well-accepted science of climate change when reporting on waterfront activities?

There was not a single mention of rising sea level in your editorial, or your front-page story, about these planned waterfront developments. But with scientists now saying sea level rise will be faster and higher than any previous reports implied, don't you think these developments just possibly might be affected?

The Times just cannot, will not, bring the issue and threat of climate change into any article written about local happenings. What is wrong with you people? Don't you read your own editorials about climate change?

Are you so afraid of upsetting the head-in-the-sand status quo around here?

Tyler Carder, Largo

Legislators wary of map changes | Aug. 14

Time for oversight

With all due respect to U.S. Rep. Corinne Brown, neither she nor any of our Tallahassee legislators "own" districts. What she and they represent are not "their" districts. The districts belong to the public, to voters. Our representatives are too involved in guaranteeing their own jobs than in doing what they are hired to do: represent us in fairly dividing the state into districts. It is time to put the redistricting process into the hands of an unbiased third party, either a court or an independent commission. Our legislators have demonstrated amply since 2010 that they can't be trusted to do the job.

Stephen Phillips, St. Petersburg

Medicare to pay for new cancer drug | Aug. 8

Problems beneath surface

Medicare enrollees now have access to a lifesaving medication that can put some leukemia patients into remission in under a month. In response to the medicine's six-figure price tag as well as the cost of other cancer drugs, some oncologists have urged the government to negotiate lower drug prices for Medicare patients.

Cancer is but one disease affected by the cost of medication. Unlike this one example, government "negotiations" could actually lead to limited access for seniors to lifesaving medications. Insisting that pharmaceutical companies accept artificially low prices may stop them from selling certain drugs to Medicare, such as in the case of veterans and the VA. As a consequence of "negotiations," VA insurance plans cover just 65 percent of the drugs most commonly prescribed through Medicare. Facing enormous costs for research and production, the reality for pharmaceuticals could indeed cause a repeat of such a scenario with Medicare's formularies.

While lowering prices for chronic disease medications indeed sounds like an important goal, government-imposed negotiations could be the wrong approach.

Larry Hausner

Chief patient advocate, Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease

Budget gets $900,000 surprise | Aug. 14

Pasco libraries need help

The Pasco Times reported that "it's likely commissioners will not be able to extend library hours." For anyone who became a Pasco resident in the past seven years or may have forgotten, this is quite misleading. The issue is not extension, but restoration of library hours that were lost in budget cuts beginning in 2008. A 16 percent reduction in library hours since 2008-2009 has resulted in 2,757 fewer hours that Pasco County libraries are open for public use this year than seven years ago. Meanwhile, Pasco's population and needs have continued to grow.

Our countywide public libraries are among the most important assets to the community and a vital resource for all its people. The time to restore funding so that they can return to their full operating schedule is long overdue.

Nola Branche, Hudson