Millions of Illinoisans still are not fully vaccinated

COVID-19 may not be sending as many people to hospitals, but it is still a threat.

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Daisy Murillo, 20, of North Riverside, receives a Moderna vaccine booster shot against COVID-19 at Cook County’s Forest Park Community Vaccination Site on Jan. 18, 2022.

Daisy Murillo, 20, of North Riverside, receives a Moderna vaccine booster shot against COVID-19 at Cook County’s Forest Park Community Vaccination Site on Jan. 18, 2022.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

More than 72% of Illinoisans eligible for COVID-19 immunization are fully vaccinated, a rate that exceeds the national average.

Our collective efforts have allowed us to realize this moment. Less than two years after the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic, we saw sharp declines of new COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and fatalities. Policymakers have been able to ease mitigations, including most mask mandates.

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State epidemiologists are also reporting no new infections of the Alpha, Beta or Delta variants. New infections are of the Omicron variant, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends vaccination for everyone at least 5 years old. And roughly 3.3 million Illinoisans are missing vaccine doses that would make them fully vaccinated, which requires from two to four shots.

COVID-19 may not be sending as many people to hospitals, but it is still a threat. The virus has not been eradicated and is mutating even now in other parts of the world. We need to be prepared for its return. Our immunocompromised neighbors will always be vulnerable to disease, and children younger than 5 remain ineligible for a vaccine.

Scientific advances brought us the tools we need to save lives and livelihoods amid a public health crisis. But as we have learned throughout this pandemic, it cannot force us to comply with what the data suggest we do next.

What happens next is up to us.

Dr. Tracey Smith, director of community health and programs, Illinois Public Health Association

Grace under pressure

The televised Supreme Court nomination hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson were a lesson in how to be graceful when asked the most inane and irrelevant questions.

Many senators used the hearings to ask Jackson about former cases, her judicial philosophy and detailed concepts of constitutional law. However, some used the hearings as an opportunity for sound bites about issues that have never come before the court.

For example, when Sen. Ted Cruz asked Jackson about books dealing with race that may or may not be currently used in schools, she answered: ”Senator, I have not seen these books, nor am I familiar with them.”

She has never been a high school or college teacher. Why would she know about the non-issue of critical race theory, which is what Cruz was hoping to discuss?

Her answers were factual and calm. What a difference these hearings were when compared to those of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Not once did Jackson get defensive, argumentative, whiny or upset. Kavanaugh was all of those when answering questions from Sen. Amy Klobuchar on his past behavior.

Jackson is a breath of fresh air. I hope she is confirmed soon.

Jan Goldberg, Riverside

Misuse of campaign funds

Money donated to a political candidate, either by the private sector or corporations, is earmarked to help the candidate with expenses for his or her campaign for public office. This is why they are referred to as “campaign funds.”

To use this money for other purposes is fraudulent. We have witnessed countless politicians use campaign funds to pay criminal defense lawyers. This practice has to stop.

Private citizens charged with a crime cover their own defense costs, and rightly so. Politicians should not be allowed to use campaign funds for their legal defense. If the private sector desires to contribute to a candidate’s legal defense, then the fund should be set up as a “legal defense” fund.

When we as private citizens donate hard-earned money to a candidate’s campaign, our expectations are that the money is used appropriately — to help run a successful campaign, not to keep him or her out of jail.

John Livaich, Oak Lawn

Child pornography is sexual abuse of a child

In his attack on Sen. Josh Hawley’s questioning of Ketanji Brown Jackson, columnist Jacob Sullum claims Hawley misrepresented Brown because he accuses her of leniency for “sex criminals” who “prey on children,” when in fact, Sullum says, they’re merely people convicted of possessing or sharing child pornography, not “sexually abusing children.”

No, Mr. Sullum, child pornography is the sexual abuse of a child.

Sullum says Hawley “obscures an important distinction between people who produce child pornography, which necessarily entails abuse of children, and people who look at the resulting images.”

Important to whom?

As if dirty pictures of children are plastered everywhere and one need only choose to look. Even in this digital age, even the most porn-addicted non-pedophile would have to go pretty far out of his way to look at dirty pictures of children, and as is so often the case, save them for future reference.

Taking dirty pictures of kids is child abuse, but so is every copy, every share, every drooling viewing of that image.

The finer points of possession versus distribution, retributive versus general-deterrent effects, etc., are important, but far distant, considerations that must be based first on an agreement of the unassailable fact that child pornography is, in fact and in law, the sexual abuse of a child, every time it occurs.

James FitzGerald, Edgewater

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