How pro-vaccine are our readers? Over the last few weeks you've read letters to the editor blasting the Los Angeles firefighters and police officers fighting the city's COVID-19 vaccinate-or-test requirement. The mix of opinions in the letters that have been published reflects what we've been hearing in the much larger number of submissions on the topic: Overwhelmingly, readers favor vaccination mandates, with some saying the refusal of so many first responders to get their shots is undermining their trust in law enforcement.
But if mandates are not having the desired effect, what else can be done? Recently, columnist Nicholas Goldberg drew a red line at physically forcing the holdouts to get their shots, which reportedly is what's being done in China. Our readers were more receptive to the idea.
Below are the opinions of readers who have suffered through the pandemic longer than they would have if vaccine uptake had been higher. As I have written before, their frustration and anger have been building, especially during the latest Delta variant surge. Their reaction to Goldberg's column on using more coercive means to force vaccination shows just how angry they are.
To the editor: Goldberg wrote that China went too far in "forcing" its citizens to take the COVID-19 vaccinations. He differentiated between "mandating" citizens to get their shots and physically forcing them to do so.
Why is it OK for the U.S. government to force its citizens to be drafted into the military during wartime when that effectively requires them to kill people? At least when China's leaders want to force their citizens to take the vaccinations, they are trying to save lives. For me, it's that simple.
Why all of a sudden is it "crossing the line" to try to save lives by forcing people to do the right thing?
Goldberg says that it is flat wrong for Chinese government agents to burst into people's homes and force them to get an injection. Is it then flat wrong for firefighters to force themselves into people's homes that are on fire to save lives? What is it that I don't understand?
Benny Wasserman, La Palma
To the editor: Public mandates are being issued to make people's admission into buildings or even outdoor stadiums contingent upon producing a vaccination record card, not just wearing a mask. But I haven't noticed any calls for one drastic proposal: Persons arriving at a medical facility in a very serious condition caused by a coronavirus infection, and therefore expecting urgently needed medical care, wouldn't be accepted for entry and treatment unless they could show a valid record proving vaccination or a doctor's verification of a chronic health problem making vaccination hazardous.
Also, arrivals who had declined vaccination because of supposed religious beliefs (and with affiliations perhaps shown in special "passport" cards) would be turned away.
Yes, declining to provide emergency medical treatment to unvaccinated adults would be a very drastic measure during this extreme and long-enduring public health crisis. It would widely be viewed as "heartless."
On the other hand, what can justify the continuing behavior of the shockingly sizable number of COVID-19 vaccination refuseniks? They are more likely to spread this highly infectious virus even while displaying few symptoms.
Perhaps these people might view things differently if they were facing future hospital rejection. And any refuseniks seriously stricken by the virus who survive without any hospital care would surely understand why stringent public health measures, such as mandated vaccinations, are needed during a pandemic.
The medical profession's highly dedicated prevention and treatment strategies in confronting COVID-19 have been extraordinary. But the widespread and dangerous resistance to readily available vaccines is incomprehensible.
Perhaps our nation's future survival will depend upon the survival of the "fittest" — people with humane feelings and sensible political beliefs, along with confidence in science-based medicine.
Barbara Marinacci, Pacific Palisades
To the editor: In his article about vaccine mandates, Goldberg states, "The right of patients to control their bodies is a bedrock principle not just in the United States but in medical communities around the world."
That's not quite true. Women are allowed to get body piercings and tattoos. They can avail themselves of a long list of medical procedures to change, alter or enhance a body part. Yet a woman's right to control decisions about her reproductive system is still under attack.
If "physical coercion is almost universally considered unacceptable," then women should not be forced to bear children against their will.
Betty Rome, Culver City
To the editor: Goldberg is dead wrong when he writes that people should not be forced to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
While people have the right not to take preventive measures against a disease or even not to treat it, they do not have the right to infect other people with a disease. Not getting a vaccination increases one's chances of infecting others with COVID-19, and it also provides the coronavirus opportunities to develop new variants.
Shame on Goldberg for not showing more common sense during this public health crisis.
Jim Sullivan, Ventura
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.