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Future COVID-19 vaccine will be effective only if we insist on its widespread use

“Vaccine hesitancy” has many bases. Among them are religious and ethical concerns, anti-scientific and anti-medical biases and conspiracy theories.

“Vaccination has provided significant protection in the past several centuries against many diseases that used to devastate human populations,” writes a Sun-Times reader. “Polio, smallpox and measles are examples of diseases driven almost to extinction by vaccination programs.”
“Vaccination has provided significant protection in the past several centuries against many diseases that used to devastate human populations,” writes a Sun-Times reader. “Polio, smallpox and measles are examples of diseases driven almost to extinction by vaccination programs.”
Paul Kane/Getty Images

In Wednesday’s Chicago Sun-Times, columnist Lynn Sweet wrote about the future availability of a vaccine and an editorial discussed the concept of “herd immunity,” in which vaccination would play a significant role. Both pieces failed to mention one significant — and troubling — point: the strength of the anti-vaccination movement in the US.

“Vaccine hesitancy” has many bases. Among them are religious and ethical concerns, anti-scientific and anti-medical biases and conspiracy theories. Some individuals complaining that social-distancing measures are a plot against our civil liberties also are active in the anti-vaccination movement.

SEND LETTERS TO: letters@suntimes.com. Please include your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes.

Despite concerns, vaccination has provided significant protection in the past several centuries against many diseases that used to devastate human populations. Polio, smallpox and measles are examples of diseases driven almost to extinction by vaccination programs. Yet there have been recent resurgences; for example, worldwide measles cases increased by 30% in 2019. Such outbreaks can cost lives and millions of dollars to combat. I encourage readers to consult the data in articles online.

The bottom line is that a failure to use an available vaccine can result in outbreaks of disease and deaths that could have been prevented. To not vaccinate is to threaten the health of others. That is why proof of polio vaccination is normally required of children entering school.

Once a COVID-19 vaccine is developed, we may be faced with mandating its use.

Charles Berg, Hyde Park

Manufacturers stepping up in crisis

Chicago is the “City that Works,” even during a pandemic. And while we have a lot of people to thank for that, including healthcare workers, first responders, grocers and truck drivers, we must also recognize the hard work of our men and women in manufacturing.

They are vital to the supply chain, producing food and supplies needed to keep us healthy as we hunker down. Rising to meet this challenge, many have converted their factory floors to produce goods and products directly supporting frontline healthcare workers caring for patients battling this virus.

Ford Motor Company already has manufactured more than 1 million plastic face shields for healthcare professionals and first responders — distributing them around the country. And even smaller manufacturers have taken on big roles during these uncertain times.

A. Lava & Son’s factory on Chicago’s Southwest Side converted their machinery to produce face masks instead of its usual mattress parts. Manufacturing incubator mHub in River West developed and produced thousands of prototype face masks for Northwestern’s medical professionals to use on the job. And Chicago’s Koval Distillery halted production of gin and vodka and began producing hand sanitizer.

These products are key to ensuring vital operations are maintained at O’Hare Airport, at our hotels housing the National Guard troops manning the Harwood Heights testing site, and keeping our healthcare workers and our first responders safe.

Our manufacturers are standing strong during this pandemic, ensuring workers are paid, healthcare professionals are protected, and our communities are safe. Employing almost 600,000 people across the state and generating over $304 billion in economic output annually, manufacturers have helped make Chicago and Illinois the economic capitol of the Midwest.

While their focus is on meeting the immediate challenges before us, they will surely lead the way forward as our city and state begin to heal.

State Rep. Brad Stephens, R-Rosemont

Pritzker can’t have it both ways

So Gov. J.B. Pritzker now thinks he can threaten to withhold federal funds to businesses that defy his lockdown order and open during the pandemic? Really? What makes him think that he has the authority to withhold funds that are not his in the first place?

It wasn’t long ago that Pritzker and others argued it was illegal for President Donald Trump to withhold federal funds to Illinois for being a sanctuary state, which is a violation of federal law. But now he thinks he can withhold federal funds to businesses that will go out of business if they can’t reopen.

Sorry, governor, but you can’t have it both ways.

John Moravecek, Naperville