Letters to the editor: 04-01-19
Some diseases not vaccine preventable
WHT’s article Sunday is an excellent review of current issues surrounding immunization requirements and controversies in Hawaii.
As a pediatrician in Kealakekua since 1981, I am pleased especially by the statements you published attributed to Shannon Matson, mother to a 5-year-old and an 11-month-old in Hilo. Ms. Matson has perfectly articulated the “Antivaxer” attitudes and beliefs. Ms. Matson is quoted as saying she believes that foreign and domestic travelers to Hawaii should be vaccinated before arrival in Hawaii “to protect vulnerable populations.”
She further states that the “travelers” represent the true risk, and not “those families that seek exemptions for their children based on religious, personal, or medical concerns.” To paraphrase: People like us are above the law, force others to be immunized, but never us.
Ms. Matson is clearly suffering from a disease that is increasingly prevalent in Hawaii, and is the underlying cause of the frighteningly low rates of immunizations in Big Island schools: Arrogance. Unfortunately, this is not a vaccine preventable disease. It can, however, be treated by encouraging affected individuals to travel and settle elsewhere.
Peter Locatelli, MD
Little heads up would be nice
Puuhonua Road is one lane from the Napoopoo junction to the transfer station. At the very least, Environmental Services, as a courtesy to the entire South Kona community, should post a notice at the junction when the transfer station is closed.
Many of us come from miles away and have limited time to do this errand. There is no reason not to think ahead and realize what a mess and frustration this causes. Simple common sense.
Truth behind religious exemption falsehoods
The statistics on the number of Big Island parents claiming “religious exemptions” to avoid vaccinations are appalling.
Facts are important and here are a few facts:
1. There are no significant, widely recognized religious groups that oppose vaccinations via accepted doctrine. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists all recognize the value of preventive vaccinations. Even the myths that Christian Scientists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Ultra-orthodox Jews or fundamentalist Muslims oppose vaccinations are just not true. Nor do Amish communities or conservative Dutch communities oppose vaccinations. The religious doctrine opposition to vaccinations was lifted decades ago.
2. So-called religious exemptions are nothing more than opposition based on personal choice and are not protected by the rule of law.
3. In rare cases, children may have legitimate medical exemptions — an immune deficiency condition or a severe allergic reaction to certain vaccines.
4. The link between vaccinations and autism was an elaborate hoax perpetrated by a UK physician who has since had his medical license permanently revoked. The medical journal which published his research has repeatedly repudiated the research.
The narrative that vaccinations endanger children is also an elaborate hoax perpetrated by internet neo-Luddites.
5. Parents who refuse to have their children vaccinated on religious grounds are endangering their children as well as all other members of society. They should be prosecuted to the full extent of law for child abuse and child endangerment.
Religious freedom is protected by law. Personal choice is not. The personal choices of neo-Luddites are not protected when their children are abused and endangered. Nor when neo-Luddites endanger society as a whole.