Letter to the Editor

Efficacy of inoculations

A popular argument for rejecting vaccination and the wearing of masks during the current pandemic appears to be the claim that we don't know enough about the effectiveness of either. Folks keep using the phrase "uncharted territory" to support refusal for following recommended guidelines. This was repeated by Eric Becking at Tuesday's Public Health meeting.

The efficacy of inoculations has been recognized since at least the 18th Century. During the American Revolution, George Washington ordered his troops be vaccinated against smallpox, as disease was responsible for some 90% of deaths among Continental Army regulars. In the ensuing centuries we have benefited from vaccines protecting us from polio, whooping cough, tetanus, diphtheria, flu, measles, mumps and more. COVID-19 is among the coronavirus family of diseases, and coronavirus research has been going on for some 50 years.

During the Spanish flu epidemic, the city of St. Louis imposed a strict mask mandate and closure of all but essential businesses. The city's population at the time was nearly 800,000 (it's now only about 300,000), placing it among the country's 10 largest. The success of quarantine and masking resulted in St. Louis having the lowest death rate among all of the country's largest cities.

How on earth can people argue that we are in "uncharted territory?"