Perhaps instead of fighting over how many merchants in town sell seashells, they should consider not selling them at all ("Fighting over some seashells," Dave Hansen column, June 2).

Yes, I know, they are big sellers, and make money for the merchants. But do any of them know, or care, that there is a highly unregulated trade in coral reef products that are decimating reefs across the globe? I think it's sad to be selling shells and coral because they are so beautiful, but meanwhile, they are contributing to coral reef destruction.

Maybe the merchants are unwitting accomplices to reef destruction, but now they know, and they can make their own choices.

Once again, will it be profits or destruction? I don't patronize shops that sell shells. And that's too bad, because I love some of these shops. But if these shop owners are going to sell the beauty of the ocean, meanwhile destroying it, well, I can make my choices too. And I would urge others to do the same.

Anne Earhart

Laguna Beach

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No more taxes for open space

We do not need another "parcel fee" for the next 20 years for "open space." This is a tax-fee indirectly sponsored by the city and City Council. We have enough debt to pay for, and if these "open space" organizations want this land, let them pay for it.

Benjamin J. Jones

Laguna Beach

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Articles about the newly required pertussis vaccine need clarification ("Mailbag: Parent disputes vaccination advice" May 27). The piece noted that schools have misled parents by failing to mention the California exemption.

My own sampling of letters found that 60% of schools did not inform parents of their right to the exemption. Furthermore, the official announcement letter from the California Department. of Education to superintendents and administrators did not mention the exemption. This is a tragic omission from the upper echelons that prevents us from making educated choices.

The response published as "Community Commentary: Autism, vaccine link unproven" (June 3) focused on discrediting the previous article based on the validity of the autism concern.

While Wakefield's autism study was notoriously retracted, there was fraud on the other side as well. Paul Thorsen, a vaccine scientist who helped publish Danish studies dissociating vaccines and autism, was recently indicted on suspicion of fraud and money laundering.

We do not have any conclusive evidence that proves or disproves a link between vaccines, autism, and other autoimmune diseases.

Regarding the mercury concern, there is no thimerosal in most vaccines, but both brands of Tdap include formaldehyde. Adacel also contains aluminum phosphate and glutaraldehyde, while Boostrix contains bovine extract or casein. These ingredients and their impact on health are obscured from the public.

Still there are bigger issues with the vaccine and epidemic.

A major supporter of Assembly Bill 354 was GlaxoSmithKline, one of the two Tdap manufacturers. Why are drug companies involved in creating public health laws that will increase their profits?

Also, we have responded impulsively to epidemics by increasing immunizations without understanding the pathogen or effects of vaccines. While children have been immunized for pertussis since the 1960s, and vaccination rates remain high in California, the number of pertussis cases last year rivals numbers from 1947. Why would we increase vaccinations without first addressing these anomalies?

The pertussis problem escalated into an epidemic after infant deaths mounted last year. Nine of the 10 deaths were infants less than 2 months of age. According to a Los Angeles Times report, many of these infants were not diagnosed or treated for pertussis, which contributed to their deaths. Why would we increase vaccinations without first improving diagnoses and treatment of infant pertussis?

Hospital exposure poses a hidden problem as well, and a survey of San Diego County adults found that 42% of healthcare workers were not covered by Tdap. Both adolescents and adults can be infected with pertussis without any symptoms. Why would we increase adolescent vaccinations when transmission is likely from adults, including hospital workers?

Even if we vaccinated entire adult and adolescent populations, there is growing evidence that our vaccines may not be effective.

Vaccines have saved countless lives, but they are not all created equal. Discussions get derailed when doctors wave credentials and dissenters point to YouTube videos. Let us work together to demand more rigorous research and prevention before enforcing mass immunizations that impact our individual health, safety and freedom.

Shari Cheves

Laguna Beach