The Baltimore Sun

Vaccine is critical to controlling measles

Recent outbreaks of measles in the United States are related to the increasing number of parents who fail to vaccinate their children ("Measles cases at 12-year high," Aug. 22).

Whether for religious or philosophical reasons, these parents put their children, as well as others, at unnecessary risk.

My 4-year-old daughter is unable to be vaccinated against measles as a result of a medical condition. She and others like her depend on the rest of our community not to pass along this avoidable, potentially devastating disease.

I hope parents will take time to understand the independent science proving the safety of these vaccines and disproving a link between vaccines and autism or any other disorder.

We need to put facts ahead of our fears, and to weigh the ethics and public health impact of our personal medical decisions.

Rachel Box, Baltimore

The article "Measles cases at 12-year high" arrived with perfect timing.

As Maryland parents are organizing and registering children for the new school year, it is imperative that they know the importance of vaccinations.

Although school nurses respect parents' rights to be exempted from vaccinating their children (for health or religious reasons), we also work hard to help families understand the high risk associated with the lack of measles vaccinations.

Measles outbreaks are increasing worldwide, and since the 1996 measles outbreak, the frequency of the disease has increased.

Parents and physicians need to work together to prevent disease.

Maureen Nersten, Jarrettsville

The writer is a nurse in the Harford County public schools.

Faithful people right to query candidates

Kathleen Parker is dead wrong when she suggests that Pastor Rick Warren is un-American for inviting Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama to answer questions at his church ("Candidates' church quiz un-American," Commentary, Aug. 22).

What could be more American than exercising your freedom of speech and desire to be informed by inviting two presidential candidates to answer questions that matter most to you and those who agree with you?

The Founding Fathers would see it that way.

Apparently Ms. Parker believes certain rights shouldn't be extended to the likes of Mr. Warren. Instead, he should stop asking so many questions, and just keep being a "good man with an exemplary record of good works" in the ghetto of his faith community.

How smug and patronizing can you get?

Mr. Warren's meeting was definitely not un-American; rather, it was all-American.

What is un-American is treating conservative evangelical Christians as second-class citizens and, in the name of pluralism, belittling them for daring to participate in the political system.

When that happens, America loses.

Jeff Atherholt, Catonsville

Use new technology to curb alcohol's toll

I have just a few thoughts about the uproar over the suggestion that the drinking age should be discussed and possibly lowered ("Drinking age call draws outrage," Aug. 20).

The blackmail of the states by the federal government to force them to adopt the drinking age of 21 was an egregious abuse of power.

If, at the age of 18, individuals are held legally accountable for their actions as adults, assumed mentally competent to vote, never mind serving and dying for their country, they should be given all of the rights and privileges of adulthood, including the right to drink.

If drinking and driving is really the concern here, let's use the available technology - i.e., breath alcohol ignition interlock devices - to minimize the problem.

In fact, let's do the federal mandate idea one step better and require these devices on all new cars, thus lowering the per unit costs of such devices and greatly decreasing the number of alcohol-related accidents.

Edward Crook, Timonium

Not taxpayers' job to bail out racing

It is not the responsibility of citizens of Maryland to rescue the Maryland racing industry with slots but of the industry to rescue itself ("A rigged game," editorial, Aug. 20).

Juanita Thiess, White Marsh

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