Letters to the Editor: Anti-vaccine parents are a sign this nation has lost its way

·2 min read
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 27: Estella Cornejo, 13, mother Guadalupe Cornejo and sister Guadalupe Cornejo, 14, register to get a COVID-19 vaccination at Esteban Torres High School on Thursday, May 27, 2021 in Los Angeles, CA. Governor Gavin Newsom unveils a $116.5 million COVID-19 vaccine incentive plan, including cash prizes and gift cards. New efforts by the state to encourage more Californians - especially those in communities that have been hit hardest by the pandemic - to get vaccinated. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
A mother and her two teenagers register for COVID-19 vaccinations at Esteban Torres High School in Los Angeles on May 27. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: It was mandatory for me to have a smallpox shot before enrolling in school back in the 1930s; my parents welcomed the vaccine. As a parent, I welcomed the Salk vaccination against polio for my children. As a grandparent, I welcomed all vaccinations from measles to mumps, hepatitis, whooping cough, HPV and more. ("A gaping hole in Gov. Newsom's school vaccine 'mandate,'" editorial, Oct. 12)

We can't protect our children from everything, but to not protect our kids from communicable diseases that can be fatal to them or others — or, if they are one of the unlucky ones, carry debilitating consequences for many months — is unconscionable.

Why is it so hard for some to understand? Communicable diseases and pandemics are the problem, and vaccines are the solution?

Where has the American spirit for the common good gone?

Diane Welch, Huntington Beach

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To the editor: In denouncing nonmedical exemptions to Gov. Gavin Newsom's vaccine mandate for public schools' students and staff, The Times Editorial Board wonders why he hasn't moved to eliminate personal belief exemptions.

The answer: Newsom finds it politically perilous to confront the R-word.

Religion indeed plays an outsize role in nationwide vaccine hesitancy: Most personal belief exemption requests are faith-based. And no politician wants to provoke the pious fury of ardent religious adherents.

Though most religious leaders support vaccine mandates, many in their flocks abide anti-vaxxers' disinformation. That's why Newsom's stay-at-home orders have specifically exempted "faith-based services provided through streaming" as an "essential service" — a gratuitous nod to true believers, where no streamed mass meeting, religious or secular, would violate his order.

With Newsom seeking reelection next year, there is no sense in praying for him to close the glaring gap posed by belief exemptions.

Devra Mindell, Santa Monica

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To the editor: The COVID-19 vaccine, unlike other shots administered to children, is barely out of the box, and the state is gearing up to require jabs for our smallest citizens who have no say in the matter whatsoever. Neither do their parents, if the exemption for personal beliefs is removed from the mandate.

The vaccines currently given to kids have been around for many years and have been shown to be effective and safe. Let's give science and testing more time to ensure these new vaccines are truly safe for children.

While we wait for that day, give parents a choice. Newsom should leave the exemption for personal beliefs in place.

For the record, my daughter was fully vaccinated as a child, and my husband and I are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. I am not anti-vaccine. I do support parental rights in this specific case.

Janis Salupo, Irvine

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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