Editor, Daily Press:

The editorial in the Wednesday, Sept. 15, edition of the Tahlequah Daily Press by Steve Fair reveals a flaw in the thinking about vaccines and other protective actions for which we collectively agree to assume minor limitations on our personal freedom in order to protect one another in our daily lives.

Mr. Fair states, “It is not the job of the government to protect us from ourselves.” To that, I’d make three points:

1. Vaccines don’t just protect the person receiving the vaccine; they protect the community by creating “herd immunity” and are therefore much more than personal decisions. If it were only the one person affected, then I’d agree, but children and others who can’t be vaccinated – and even a small portion of those who are vaccinated – are left vulnerable to the virus if others refuse the vaccine.

2. The rationale of individual liberty is only possible if there is a civic commitment to the common good by all, or most, of us.

3. Our government plays a role in protecting us in many ways. To protect our children and others from particularly deadly diseases, including polio, small pox, chicken pox, measles, and others, we require childhood vaccinations. Would Mr. Fair reject these protections as well, in the name of his personal liberty?

Other restrictions we have agreed to in the interest of our common well-being include those dealing with speed limits, seat belt use, drunk driving, public food preparation, and numerous other behaviors. These are not onerous mandates. They are agreements we’ve made to try to protect one another for our common interests. They are reasonable and responsible for the entire community. And surely, as we have done in so many other areas that affect our daily lives, we can afford to make a small concession to our interest in “personal liberty” for the well-being of all.

We have brains, and thankfully, we have brilliant and dedicated scientists, physicians and other health care workers who are working hard to help overcome the dangers of this current disease that has impacted millions of Americans and cost the lives of more than 700,000 people in our country. Let’s listen to those who cry from their death bed “get the vaccination.” Please do so; the life you save may be your own, your child’s, or other loved ones.

Beth Cohenour

Tahlequah, OK

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