I, too, was disappointed with the response from Republican candidates when the issue of vaccine safety came up in the presidential debate on Wednesday (“Debate revives vaccine dispute,” Sept. 18). With all due respect to Drs. Ben Carson and Rand Paul, it’s likely they each spent six to eight weeks during medical school doing general pediatrics. In their specialty practices, they would have had no need to keep up with vaccine safety studies nor to counsel parents day to day about this issue, as we do in primary care. In fact, they probably can’t tell you the childhood vaccine schedule — it is not their specialty! They trust their children’s providers to be up to date on this — and we are. Donald Trump’s comments were also irresponsible, but I suspect most parents would not turn to him for medical advice. Vaccines are safe; they do not cause autism, and they prevent illness and death. Even the Autism Speaks organization has a policy statement recommending that kids get vaccinated on time.

The study about whether doctors “let” their patients spread out vaccines is misleading. The recommended schedule has been tested for safety and effectiveness, and that’s why we recommend it (and immunize our own children according to it). Some parents request to “spread out” vaccines, and the Minnesota statute technically allows it — it’s not really that we “let” them do it. Some primary-care providers have decided to “fire” parents who won’t vaccinate; that is certainly an alternative. I’m not aware of any locally, although I’m sure some of us have considered it. But we believe it’s right to provide care for those kids, too.

Childhood vaccines are the most rigorously, exhaustively tested medications available. The majority of parents know to trust their kids’ doctors on this issue, and most DO vaccinate according to our recommendations. Parents, vote for whomever you like for president, but please trust your kids’ providers about vaccines.

Dr. Nancy Waller, Minneapolis

The writer is a pediatrician.

• • •

It was unbelievable to me that CNN missed the crucial issue crowding the headlines today. The debating candidates surely should have been asked what they would do as president about the flood of refugees into Europe, and perhaps the U.S.? Not one candidate was asked about this horrific humanitarian crisis.

Jim Waldo, Duluth

• • •

Just because Carly Fiorina happens to be female is no reason to think she supports issues that matter to women (“Fiorina offers Republicans a chance to reach out to women,” Sept. 18). The third paragraph of the article details Republican attempts to restrict health care options for women, and the following paragraph describes more Republican shenanigans that would impose limits on abortion services. Fiorina herself in the recent shouting match — er, “debate” — went after Planned Parenthood in no uncertain terms. The Republican Party can no more “reach out” to women with Fiorina as a candidate than they can reach out to black people with Ben Carson. Gender and skin color do not automatically qualify a candidate as sympathetic to issues that matter to women and people of color. It’s their policy that matters.

George Hutchinson, Minneapolis

 

INCOME AND OPPORTUNITY

School bus job isn’t as lucrative as letter writer calculates

A Sept. 18 letter writer (“To find better pay, sometimes all you need to do is look”) miscalculated the facts about school bus drivers. He stated that at $16 per hour with a $1,000 signing bonus, a single driver could make $34,280 annually. The fact is that school bus drivers work part time. At most, they put in 25 hours per week. The school year is, at most, 38 weeks. The $1,000 signing bonus is a one-time thing. A best-case scenario for a school bus driver is $16,200 in the first year of driving and $15,200 in year two. Occasional charters can help supplement that income, but the pay for charters is lower than the pay for school routes.

There is nothing wrong with driving a school bus. It is important and necessary work, but it is not a stand-alone solution to poverty, as the writer suggests.

Coleen T. Dorman, St. Paul

 

COLUMBIA HEIGHTS

Was student walkout honorable or just another mob tactic?

As a former librarian at Columbia Heights High School, I am proud of the dignified, unified response shown by students and staff to anti-Muslim remarks allegedly made by school Board Member Grant Nichols. The staff and student body demonstrated strength by staging a peaceful walkout protest on Wednesday morning (“ ‘I was really disrespected,’ ” Sept. 17).

This firm response to anti-Muslim rhetoric stands in stark contrast to the way Donald Trump dealt with a question at a town hall event in Rochester, N.H., on Thursday. The questioner, who stated that Obama was a Muslim (he’s not), asked Trump when we can get rid of training camps of Muslims in this country who are trying to kill us. Trump could have used this occasion to take a moral stance against bigotry and intolerance. Instead, he chose to validate the questioner’s religious prejudice and inaccurate statements. Trump’s lack of moral integrity and courage displays a serious flaw in the character of one who aspires to the office of president.

Daniel Sevig, Eden Prairie

• • •

Well, here we go again. This reeks of the Minnesota dentist who shot the lion. Due to mass media and the Internet, a person — Columbia Heights school Board Member Grant Nichols — is being persecuted and found guilty without due process. The students “would not be satisfied until Nichols is off the board.” Not only that, but Jaylani Hussein, executive director of Minnesota’s Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that school board Vice Chairman Ted Landwehr’s vote in defense of Nichols was “concerning. We now have two school board members to worry about,” he said. “Not only did [Landwehr] refuse to listen to the community, he also refused to listen to his peers.”

I believe that Landwehr was the only member who thinks about the law and what’s right. How can the other three school board members be so manipulated as to vote to ruin someone’s life over an incident that may or may not have been by his hand? No one has even looked into the possibility that his phone was hacked, as Nichols says.

Chuck Bever, Stillwater

 

NATIONAL GUARD

In our modern era, a leaner force would still be effective

Gov. Mark Dayton should support cuts to the Minnesota National Guard, as proposed in the president’s budget for next year (“Dayton fights to avert cuts to Guard,” Sept. 18). A Guard force of 11,000 is clearly excessive. In this day of instant communication, air travel and good roads for vehicle transport, Guard members from neighboring states could be called in to respond in the unlikely case of a major disaster. Belt-tightening is prevalent through all aspects of our lives; the military should be no exception.

Sharon Fortunak, Cottage Grove