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Baltimore Sun letters to the editor: vaccine misinformation, ghost students and lessons on race | READER COMMENTARY

Criticism of vaccine mandates rings hollow

The commentary “Vaccine mandates: a new form of ‘institutional segregation’” by Peter Doshi and Aditi Bhargava will do more harm than good.

The authors state that there are no restrictions on people who have received an exemption from childhood vaccinations, unlike employer requirements for masks/testing for those without COVID vaccination. This is not accurate. When we experienced measles outbreaks, officials issued orders prohibiting unvaccinated individuals from entering enclosed public spaces. Health care workers with exemptions from flu vaccination are required to mask up during flu season. If we were facing spread of another disease that childhood vaccines protect against, officials would impose similar restrictions. Contrary to the authors’ assertion that once an exemption is granted, we no longer care about the unvaccinated status, public health professionals care and work to increase vaccination and provide other protections.

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The authors also suggest that people unwilling to get the COVID vaccine should be heard. Anyone working in public health or schools considering restrictions has heard from vaccine opponents. These community members have been given a lot of airtime — in public hearings, on mainstream and social media. Just because public health officials, governors, legislators, school boards and employers have imposed, or are considering imposing, vaccine mandates does not mean they have not been listening. Rather, they are also listening to others and, importantly, to science.

The authors refer to science and suggest a valid basis for not being vaccinated is immunity from having been infected with COVID. Yet the authors fail to note that the study concludes that vaccination in addition to natural immunity increases protections. This is not an either/or proposition. The vaccine offers additional protections for those who have had COVID and those who have not. The authors mention the possibility of myocarditis caused by vaccination. Such an outcome rare, and most patients recover readily. Further, an American Academy of Pediatrics study revealed children under 16 were 37 times more likely to develop myocarditis if COVID infected than if not. It is fair — and even ethically required — to mention risks, but the incredibly low possibility of an extreme negative outcome from the vaccine, especially as compared to infection, has been used to prop up otherwise unfounded opposition to the vaccine.

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Finally, the authors’ attempt to describe the impact of vaccine mandates as segregation and against our “historical norm of equal opportunity” falls flat. The choice to decline free vaccination and be subject to mask/testing is not analogous to race, sex or ethnicity. I suspect many of my civil rights focused colleagues could eviscerate the authors’ attempt to paint vaccine resistance as a civil rights issue akin to our history of segregation and discrimination and the continuing impact of the same. As a public health lawyer, I’ll leave that to my colleagues.

Kathleen Hoke

The writer is a professor at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law, director of the Network for Public Health Law Eastern Region (funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation) and director of the Legal Resource Center for Public Health Policy (funded by the Maryland Department of Health). The views expressed her own, and not of her employer or funders.

City school investigation shows ‘ghost’ students still a problem

The news report “This Baltimore high school’s administrators schemed to inflate enrollment, change grades, report finds” (Sept. 2) details a multitude of ways that administrators milked the system for the $16,000 funding each student earns for them. While it was stated that the problems were isolated to just one school, the practice of educational fraud has been an ongoing problem for city schools for decades. “Ghost” students have been on the class rolls for many years, and, according to this report, they still are.

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Compound this with the huge number of students who are woefully behind in their studies, resulting in schools not being able to produce students who are proficient in their reading or math skills. Yet the money still rolls in regardless of whether the graduate can read their diploma or not. Seems like a great way to rake in tons of taxpayer dollars with little accountability for having to actually teach all of the students what they need to know.

Dan Crumpler, Bradenton, Florida

Thank you for the lesson on race in America

Thanks and kudos to Terence Frasier for his thoughtful and wonderfully-written piece, “Mask giving Black man greater level of freedom” (Sept. 3). As an (old) white man, I’ve had to learn a lot of painful lessons about race in America in the past few years. Mr. Frasier’s essay just taught me a few more, and I’m grateful for them.

Bradley Alger, Baltimore

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