Letters to the Editor: Government has the power to mandate COVID-19 vaccination right now. Use it

·3 min read
TORRANCE, CA - AUGUST 05: Dr. Anita Sircar, MD, looks out of an emergancy room in Little Company of Mary Medical Center on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021 in Torrance, CA. Doctors and nurses hustled urgently around the man in the emergency room, as COVID-19 cases have been on the rise again in Los Angeles County, powered by the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Dr. Anita Sircar, seen in the emergency room of a Torrance hospital, wrote an op-ed article in the L.A. Times urging people to get vaccinated against COVID-19. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Why are we still allowing people to avoid getting vaccinated? ("As a doctor in a COVID unit, I'm running out of compassion for the unvaccinated. Get the shot," Opinion, Aug. 17)

In 1905, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Jacobson vs. Massachusetts that a law requiring people to get vaccinated against smallpox or pay a fine was constitutional. Plaintiff Henning Jacobson argued to the court that "compulsion to introduce disease into a healthy system is a violation of liberty." Sound familiar?

The Court ruled, "Upon the principle of self-defense, of paramount necessity, a community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members."

Cities and states have the power now to mandate vaccinations against COVID-19. For those who refuse, the fines could be collected on an increasing schedule that would make it too burdensome for people to avoid vaccinations. Exemptions could be allowed for people with provable medical or religious objections.

We have the power to end this epidemic, and it's time we used it.

Paul Weissman, Pasadena

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To the editor: Thank you so much for publishing Dr. Anita Sircar's op-ed article.

My heart goes out to all the doctors and nurses who have treated and are still treating unvaccinated patients, for whom I no longer feel any sympathy. I just feel anger at their selfishness. They refuse to get vaccinated, and many also do not wear masks or social distance because they want "their freedom."

Meanwhile, "their freedom" is jeopardizing the continued health of everyone else and "our freedom" to remain healthy. I no longer have any patience with these people and do not feel sympathy for them when they lose their lives due to their steadfast ignorance and selfishness.

They are putting all those healthcare workers and everyone else's life at risk. It's unconscionable.

Lilla Russell, Long Beach

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To the editor: I so appreciated Dr. Sircar's piece. Her heartbreaking and candid letter to unvaccinated individuals in our society resonated with me, not only as a fellow human being, but also as a nurse for nearly 40 years.

My mother was also a nurse. Based not only on her education and career but also as a polio survivor, she believed that vaccines were vital to illness prevention and health maintenance. She was right, and I have lived my life so grateful for vaccines that have been carefully developed for our health and wellness.

To echo Dr. Sircar's plea to all who are unvaccinated, please get the shot. The sooner we are all vaccinated, the sooner we will get through this pandemic.

Gwen Wysocki, Redlands

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To the editor: As a cardiologist who routinely cares for patients at high risk from COVID-19, I have found it challenging to persuade some patients to receive the vaccine. When a logical explanation of the medical facts fails to convince, I have had some success with the following argument:

We are in a war against a deadly enemy. Those who remain unvaccinated are not just refusing to join the fight, they are sheltering and feeding the enemy, promoting its proliferation and strengthening its ability to attack everyone else.

Please try to find the courage to be a good citizen and get vaccinated.

Paul Maher, MD, Pasadena

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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