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Vaccine rights and responsibilities, fascism and guns

Protesters gather outside the Stony Brook LIRR station.

Protesters gather outside the Stony Brook LIRR station. Credit: Howard Simmons

Responsibilities and rights about vaccine

Regarding the protests across from Stony Brook University about the school’s decision to require COVID-19 vaccinations for students, while I agree that we have the right to choose, that right comes with responsibility — to yourself and others ["Demonstrators oppose SUNY vaccine mandate," News, July 20].

Your right to reject a vaccine ends when your actions can lead to serious illness or death in others. The college administration also has rights: rights to require vaccines against a deadly disease and the responsibility to protect its students and staff.

The pandemic is not over and will come back with full force unless all of us act responsibly. Frankly, we should mandate masks and vaccines until COVID-19 is beat.

Listen to the science, not some random internet post.

— Wendy C. Turgeon, St. James

U.S. citizens have the right to decline COVID-19 vaccinations even though doing so endangers their own health and the health of others and potentially further increases the burden on the U.S. health care delivery system.

However, the disease caused by the virus is obviously still with us, even in highly vaccinated New York State. As the COVID-19 delta variant becomes more widespread, so does the likelihood of infection.

Also, a small proportion of vaccinated persons can be infected, although in most cases the resultant disease is mild.

But while the right not to be vaccinated stands, New York State has the specific right and the authority under the health and welfare mandates of the state Constitution, to deny to unvaccinated persons attendance at a state or city university or institution, protecting the health of others, including the health of the health care delivery system and its staff.

— Dr. Steven Jonas, East Setauket

The writer is professor emeritus in the Department of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University.

When I was a youngster, the smallpox vaccine (the only vaccine available), was a requirement for admission to kindergarten. We got it because we knew that we had no choice.

When my children were young, the vaccines for DPT — diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough) and tetanus — and polio, in addition to our smallpox vaccine, were required for entrance to school. We did what we had to do. For those who were vaccinated, the possibility of illness from these viruses was near zero.

Now we have the anti-vaxxers trying to run the show. If you don’t want to take this vaccine, stay home, stay away from people, and stay out of the emergency rooms. Our health care workers don’t need to be put through another year of utter despair. Watching people die, when it was eminently preventable, should not be allowed again. Wake up before it’s too late.

— Joan Nelson, Ridge

Comparing America to fascism is wrong

At opposite ends of the sociopolitical spectrum, former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden cannot both be just like Adolf Hitler, and their administrations cannot both be just like the Nazis ["Fear of a ‘Reichstag moment,’ " Nation & World, July 16].

Yet, each side makes the comparison to denote how incredibly despicable it believes the other’s leader and governments are or have been. In many online posts, Trump supporters, for example, liken the Biden administration’s plan to go door to door to deliver vaccinations to what the Nazis did.

That the Nazis went house to house rounding up Jews and other "undesirables" for government-perpetrated genocide, not delivery of a lifesaving drug, is a detail that has eluded these history experts.

Biden’s attempts to get everyone healthy, safe and back to normal are not anything like what Hitler did, of course. And Trump’s refusal to admit defeat isn’t, either.

Comparisons between any American administration and the fascist German regime of the 1930s and ’40s — which methodically executed millions of people, including 6 million Jews — is not merely insensitive but makes no sense.

— Josh Kardisch, East Meadow

A fast solution to today’s gun problem

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is off base again by grandstanding and signing a bill allowing the state to sue gun manufacturers ["Declaring war on guns," News, July 7].

Here’s how you quickly solve the gun problem: Eliminate bail reform. Reintroduce stop-and-frisk on a selective basis. If you are caught with an illegal gun, your bail is set at $50,000. If you are convicted, you get five years in jail with no parole.

— Kevin McGrath, Northport