I would like to thank the state health official for responding to my letter to the editor. Unfortunately, some of her comments require illumination.
I didn't claim flu vaccines where wholly ineffective. Research shows they have an absolute (not "relative") effectiveness of 5-10 percent. Claims of 70-90 percent effectiveness are purposefully misleading by representing a change in blood antibody levels after vaccination, not effectiveness in actually preventing illness.
It's important to look at all available data, that which supports one's views as well as studies reflecting otherwise. Unfortunately the writer neglected to look at the studies I mentioned. The Cochrane Collaboration looked at three different age groups in three different studies; in total, over 100 studies regarding the flu shot. When the papers were published, journalists interviewed the lead author and the quotes in my letter were from his interviews. Actual quotes from the studies include:
"The usefulness of vaccines (flu) in the community is modest."
"there is no credible evidence that vaccination of healthy people under the age of 60, who are healthcare workers caring for the elderly, affects influenza complications in those cared for."
"On current evidence we conclude in healthy adults aged 14-60 the most cost-effective option is not to take any action."
"universal immunization of healthy adults (or children under the age of 2) is not supported."
The statement "flu shots work" seems more the result of 30 years of entrenched dogma than actual science. While the flu vaccine is modestly effective in a specific immuno-compromised population, recommendations to vaccinate healthy infants, children, adults, healthcare workers, pregnant women, and seniors isn't supported by evidence.
Using scare tactics to increase influenza vaccination in a population that receives virtually no benefit is a waste of taxpayer dollars and is potentially dangerous to otherwise healthy individuals.
Doctor of chiropractic
Lincoln's resume similar to Obama's
Cal Thomas, the Dispatch resident conservative columnist and Iraq War fan, takes on Barack Obama in his Friday column (Barack Obama: American Idol, 1/19). After a little faint praise, "attraction and seductiveness" and "If this were a contest about looks and style, Obama might have an edge," Cal gets down to the experience issue. "...should a political neophyte," Cal asks, "former state senator from Illinois with just two years experience in the U.S. Senate be hired for the world's most important job?"
By 2008, Obama's legislative experience will include just eight years in the Illinois Senate and nearly four years as a U.S. senator.
Cal probably doesn't remember that there was another Illinois lawyer, with essentially the same experience and age to Obama. The other Illinois lawyer was nominated by the Republican Party as its candidate for president. That lawyer had served the same eight years in the Illinois Legislature and one term as a congressman in Washington. The time was 1860 as the nation also faced a grave war crisis. The Republican nominee, of course, was Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was also the subject of a lot of newspaper criticism.
We don't want a 'super speedway'
Our votes put government officials into jobs where they produce projects at our expense. Now they propose that Mill and Eighth Avenues should be widened into a three-lane or four-lane highway with sidewalks. This will present continual financial, physical and emotional hardships to residents living along the street. The St. Cloud designers, city/county employees' main goal is providing fast travel on this neighborhood street, and a sidewalk for "tourists" to use. It's not looking out for Mill Avenue and northeast residents' best interests.
We don't want Mill Avenue widened nor to lose the shoulders! However, officials and SEH will take valuable property, destroy beautiful, mature shade trees and lawn - bringing the road even closer to our homes. Instead, why don't they resurface Mill and Eighth Avenues now - the size it currently is? Then check their 20-year "traffic projections" in 2026 since the road surface lasts only 20 years. Just because the state's offering tax dollars doesn't mean local officials should spend, spend, spend - making our neighborhood a "super speedway." Better use of funds would be installing blinking "reduced speed" signs, designated crosswalks, or a 4-way stop at the "business" intersection of H Street/Mill Avenue.
Snowplows throw compacted ice, snow and salt - killing grass, forcing us to shovel sidewalks. City ordinances require residents to pay for and continually maintain sidewalks. This is unfair to expect us to be unpaid workers and financiers, not to mention liability. Elderly could succumb to heart attacks doing sidewalk maintenance. Sidewalks infringe on residents' privacy; they're a burden. We absolutely don't want sidewalks.
The time to be heard is now, not after the city council gives approval and huge equipment tears our neighborhood to shreds. We urge all Mill and Eighth Avenue residents to be present at the Brainerd City Council meeting, 7:30 p.m., Monday, Feb. 5.
Beverly Ehrich and Janine Letendre
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