Next to improved sanitation, public vaccination has been the single most effective means of eliminating the mass epidemics that used to devastate whole continents ["Childhood illness builds immunity," Letters, Aug. 26]. The scourge of smallpox was eradicated thanks to enforced vaccination.

The rationale for the outrageous idea that vaccination is unnecessary is the writer's assertion that he had all the classic childhood diseases and survived. Many were not so lucky.

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Measles was considered so serious that, well into the first half of the 20th century, it was routinely quarantined. Those who survived were often left with permanent deafness or a mental disability.

Public health is about what has been proven to work for whole populations.

Dr. Richard Schloss, East Northport