I wholeheartedly agree with the letter by Diane Clay (Jan. 28) about the duplicity of the signs supporting Question 1 that read: “Yes on Question 1-No to Big Pharma”

This is an increasingly common political tactic. When the facts of your point do not make sense (opposition to universal vaccination), attack an unrelated target that we all dislike (Big Pharma).

I am a retired physician. There is a great deal we need to address with pharmaceutical costs. Universal vaccination is a separate issue.

At 7 years old I stood in a line stretching down the street in front of the Green Mountain Clinic in Northfield, Vermont, waiting to receive polio vaccine. There were crying children and nervous adults. There was national fear of an endemic disease. There was anxiety about the safety of the vaccines.

My freshman year in medical school, one of my roommates was a young man who was one of the last people in Maine to suffer from polio. He was on crutches for life and was one of the lucky ones.

As a child I contracted measles, mumps and rubella. These were highly infectious, and measles alone was responsible for 450-500 deaths yearly.


Vaccines have nearly eliminated these diseases. Side effects do occur. The idea that it is unsafe to vaccinate children flows from the success of these programs. These diseases are now uncommon and the rare side effects seem more threatening.

Immunosuppressed children in a public environment are at great risk from vaccine-preventable diseases. Once too many people are not immunized, we will again see epidemics of these diseases. They are not benign.

This seems absurd as we sit in the middle of a growing international epidemic.

A truthful sign would say: “Vote No on Question 1-Protect the children.”


Roger Renfrew, M.D., FACP


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