The financial incentives that the state is offering to encourage those who have not yet received COVID vaccinations, such as free passes to attractions like the State Fair, no-charge entrance to state parks and fishing licenses without payment, among other amenities, is a specious solution to a serious problem ("Minnesota sets fairs, fishing as lure for COVID-19 vaccinations," May 27).
This initiative, announced Thursday by Gov. Tim Walz, is intended to motivate the approximately half of the populace that has not yet been vaccinated. While massive vaccinations is a great idea, the latecomers will be rewarded for not previously being vaccinated.
That some governmental units elsewhere as well as private sector organizations like the St. Paul Saints have undertaken, or are contemplating, similar overtures does not make the approach appropriate for the state here.
Now that vaccinations are widely and readily available without charge to anyone who wants or needs them, why should the state or even a self-supporting quasi-public entity like the State Fair devote public resources or dole out taxpayer-supported benefits to those who have chosen to expose themselves to risk and endanger others? If private sector bodies wish to do so, let them indulge these indolents with their own resources, not those from the public fisc.
If the unvaccinated are, in effect, to be compensated for being holdouts, what about the millions of Minnesotans who have dutifully rolled up their sleeves without whining but by behaving like responsible adults (and some children)? They, too, should get their free park admittance, fishing licenses, passes to the Midway and other public perks.
It's the only "Fair" thing to do.
Marshall H. Tanick, Minneapolis
On the one hand, part of me applauds Gov. Walz for offering incentives to sweeten the deal for people in the state who haven't gotten vaccinated yet to hurry up and get their shots. Such rewards as free State Fair passes, fishing licenses and other offerings are good if they help entice people to finally get vaccinated. After all, from a health standpoint, if enough people in the state (and country) get vaccinated, it's good for all of us. On the other hand, part of me is inwardly fuming because no one gave me any freebies for being responsible and getting vaccinated in a timely manner. I didn't need any proverbial "carrot" dangling in front of my nose to do what I felt I had to do — both for myself and for others. Oh, well, I know that life isn't always fair, and now that I've said my piece I'm not going to dwell on this. It is what it is, as the expression goes.
Willis Woyke, Columbia Heights
From a fellow doctor: Knock it off
As a fellow family physician, I find it truly incredible that current GOP gubernatorial candidate, Dr. Scott Jensen, is continuing to use his position as a physician and politician to instill fear in our families and communities about the COVID vaccine ("GOP hopeful: Halt vaccines for children," Metro, May 27). The evidence is clear. While pediatric COVID-19 infections are rare, they exist — and they can lead to the same immediate and long-term risks we see in adults. Our children deserve the same protections as adults. The vaccine has proven safety and efficacy age 12 and up, and trials continue for younger children. My 17-year-old jumped at the chance for the vaccine, and my patients and neighbors are asking when they can vaccinate their younger children. Scott Jensen, stop risking our kids' lives for your political gain!
Dr. Nicole Chaisson, St. Paul
Jensen is weaponizing his M.D. by repeating the lie that COVID doesn't harm children. Brazil alone has seen 67,000 hospitalizations of children age 9 and under, and more than 2,200 deaths of that age group, as reported by the Guardian last Saturday. Why such a high casualty rate? Experts are saying it's a combination of factors, including an evolving virus and the assumption by medical practitioners that those kids didn't have COVID — until they were gravely ill. The fact that this man is suing the federal government to prevent us from vaccinating our kids against this deadly illness while running for governor of our state is chilling. His interests and ambitions do not align with Minnesotans' desire to use science to guide our path out of the pandemic.
Kelly O'Brien, Minneapolis
A missed shot at leadership
A school in Nevis, Minn., canceled a COVID vaccine clinic there because some people loudly complained. To let a group of vocal, scientifically uneducated and/or seeming anti-COVID-vaccine people outweigh science, health concerns and the need to get our population vaccinated is against the public interest and shows an unwillingness to lead. A public entity, particularly an education district, should demonstrate knowledge of public health, science and epidemiological reality, not bow to yahoos. No one is forced to participate if they don't want to. I'm also concerned for the health and well-being of the children of those few vocal people.
Carol A. Overland, Red Wing, Minn.
I hear a recent letter writer's apparent views very often regarding the desirability of making it mandatory for all health care workers to receive one of the COVID-19 vaccines in Minnesota ("If we must, why not all?" Readers Write, May 26).
Some states are doing all they can to make these vaccinations mandatory without consideration of the rights of those who are not persuaded that the vaccines are entirely harmless and/or those who might request a religious exemption.
It seems to me that their perspectives really deserve a hearing, in part because their views are heard so much less.
John Simcox, Minneapolis
Don't forget other immunizations
It is great to read that the Moderna vaccine may soon provide parents with a second option for their kids for fighting COVID-19, but as they make plans for summer shots, it may be a good time to check with their doctor to find out if their kids are due for others as well. Many adolescents missed appointments during the pandemic, and it would be good to get them caught up before school resumes in the fall.
The American Cancer Society recommends the HPV vaccine for both boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 12. If your child missed this shot, it is important that they schedule an appointment to provide protection from six different cancers they could get as adults. The HPV vaccine is safe, effective and long-lasting and the sooner kids get it, the stronger their immune response.
Matthew Flory, St. Louis Park
Even if vaccinated, be smart
The Minnesota Department of Health is reporting breakthrough infections in a misleading way ("Breakthrough infections rare in Minn.," front page, May 26). The department reports the number of breakthrough infections over the past few months out of the total number of fully vaccinated people today. This skews the data since most of us who are fully vaccinated in Minnesota have been so for only a very short time, likely a few weeks, given the accelerated rollout of the vaccine this spring. Therefore the risk appears artificially low. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that breakthrough cases are underestimated. These can result in hospitalization or death. In time, the 0.1% risk that the MDH is reporting could rise, and the current label that breakthrough cases are "rare" may be misleading vaccinated people into risky behavior. Even those of us who are vaccinated should not be complacent about this disease.
Ruth Robinson, Bloomington
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