Letter: Get vaccinated to protect yourself, others

Regarding Cindy Dircks’ Aug. 4 letter “Report on vaccinations was misleading”:

In 1954, I was in one of the last groups to suffer polio. In 1952, there were nearly 60,000 cases throughout America; 3,000 were fatal, and 21,000 left their victims paralyzed. In the spring of 1955 the Salk vaccine became available and everyone took advantage nationwide to get vaccinated. In October 1955, when I visited the hospital, where I was one of several thousand polio patients, they had only five cases that year.

The vaccine eliminated polio because everyone was vaccinated. This is true over the world, except where they resist vaccinations. Polio still is alive there. People traveling to and from there can carry polio virus and never get sick. They can infect anyone who isn’t vaccinated. My Mother helped a neighbor, whose daughter had polio and father also got it and died. Two weeks later my sister and I were diagnosed with polio. Mother never got sick, but most probably was the carrier.

Religious freedom doesn’t give parents the right to have their children be carriers of illnesses that can be stopped by vaccines. Some religious leaders have preyed on people’s fears, telling them not to get vaccinated. In the case of polio, only one in a million may have any problem with the vaccination. We can only control a variety of diseases by everyone being protected. My freedoms shouldn’t endanger others’ lives.

William Ashby


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