Vaccine list

LD 754, which if passed would have required that a list of vaccine ingredients be provided to parents when children are vaccinated, stirred up a hornet’s nest after passing in the Maine House. It lost in the Senate.

If parents were informed of vaccine ingredients, would they choose not to vaccinate their children? Would the end result be loss of herd immunity?

There are two elephants in the room:

One: Do vaccines cause autism or severe neurological damage in kids? According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control, 2 percent of children now carry an autism diagnosis.

Two: I believe parents are scared both to vaccinate and not to vaccinate. After choosing to vaccinate their children, having taken the risk of a vaccine injury, parents understandably don’t want their children put at risk of disease from children who dodged the vaccine risk. I believe this is why vaccination engenders such shrill emotions.

Only 1 percent of American children are fully unvaccinated, and less than 10 percent are partially unvaccinated, according to an August 2012 CDC morbidity and mortality report. That should be adequate to maintain herd immunity.

The real reason I believe we have whooping cough and mumps outbreaks is weak vaccines. Immunity wanes soon after vaccination. Even after five doses of vaccine for whooping cough, immunity is often gone before the next recommended dose. According to CDC, more than 75 percent of mumps and whooping cough cases occurred in fully-vaccinated individuals.

Sure, discussing vaccinations has charged. But a frank discussion and more information is desperately needed. This includes understanding the autism epidemic and developing better, safer vaccines.

Giving parents a list of vaccine ingredients needn’t be this scary.

Meryl Nass, MD

Southwest Harbor

Protect Medicare

Balancing a budget is full of tough choices. It’s a game of give and take. There are some years where certain line items need a little more, and others need a little less. But some programs, like the Medicare Savings Program, should never be cut.

The program covers the Part B premium for Medicare, which pays for all doctor visits, preventive care, screenings and outpatient care. This program is for those who are on a low, fixed income, who are more than 65-years-old and on Medicare or disabled. Thousands of people in the program could lose all or some of their coverage. Seniors who are on a strict fixed income are probably not in a position to apply for a job when their finances get tough.

The group of people that depend on this program really do need it, and without it, will have to make tough choices about what is more important: Medication or everyday living expenses? People shouldn’t have to make choices like these. The program was designed to prevent these sorts of decisions, and now the program could be taken away.

I understand that while trying to balance a budget compromises will have to be made, but resources shouldn’t be taken from a group of people who don’t have anything to give. I hope that people reading this will call their legislators and tell them to protect the Medicare Savings Program.

Sarah Mears

South Portland

Foreign oil free

Here in the northeast corner of the United States, the political talking points we hear relative to national matters of public policy are far from the norm across the rest of the country.

Unquestionably, our country faces a potential economic decline with long-term implications for future generations. Meanwhile, elected officials continually refuse to deal with the burgeoning national debt and pragmatic solutions. Former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, was reported saying “Our national debt is also our greatest national security threat.” But is there reason to be hopeful? Absolutely, and the solution is known.

Elected officials must stop adding speed bumps to our “economic highway.” Technology is creating huge employment opportunities. Options abound to boost the economy, grow jobs and increase the number of workers paying into the system, not draining it. How would this happen?

First, our homegrown energy boom. Look at North Dakota. New discoveries of massive reserves, coupled with advanced technologies for safely accessing oil and natural gas has the United States becoming a major energy exporter. While increasing economic opportunities in America, it would reduce reliance on unstable producers worldwide such as Iran, Russia, Venezuela and others.

Congress and the Obama administration must adopt a regulatory landscape that reverses its plodding procrastination or rapid overreach. This will require pragmatic approaches to energy regulation in the short-term while ensuring economic benefits to America and frees the U.S. from foreign oil in the long-term.

William Gardiner