I love eating Hawaii-grown produce when I visit my elderly parents on Oahu. As a University of Hawaii graduate and mainland-based sustainable agriculture scientist, I was saddened by the anti-vaccine sentiment I heard from some farmers on my recent visit to Hawaii.
Their vaccine skepticism likely comes from online groups that spread COVID-19 misinformation. The farmers’ vaccine resistance makes me worry about the future of Hawaii’s agriculture industry because it puts these farmers and their communities at risk, and it reflects anti-science thinking that hinders our ability to tackle challenges like climate change.
Our approach to sustainable agriculture should be based on sound science from organic and conventional farms, and should embrace and celebrate amazing technologies like the double- hulled canoes that brought the first staple crops to Hawaii, and the life- saving and safe vaccines that can protect the descendants of the first Hawaiians and the rest of us.
Public workers should accept responsibility
It is somewhat difficult to understand the sad and contradictory position posted by the public employee Bryan Phillips, who seems to accept his responsibility as a public worker to protect the public’s health and safety, yet refuses to accept the vaccination mandate for public workers (“People have the right to not choose vaccine,” Star-Advertiser, Letters Aug. 24). The vaccination mandate is absolutely what must be done to help protect the health and safety of our community.
Supreme Court OK’d vaccine mandates
For those who believe that they have a choice in the matter of vaccination, they should familiarize themselves with the 1905 U.S. Supreme Court case, Jacobson v. Massachusetts.
A Massachusetts law allowed cities to require residents to be vaccinated against smallpox. Cambridge adopted such an ordinance, with some exceptions. Jacobson refused to comply with the requirement and was fined $5.
The fundamental question raised by the case was: Did the mandatory vaccination law violate Jacobson’s Fourteenth Amendment right to liberty?
The court held that the law was a legitimate exercise of the state’s police power to protect the public health and safety of its citizens. Local boards of health determined when mandatory vaccinations were needed, thus making the requirement neither unreasonable nor arbitrarily imposed:
“Upon the principle of self-defense, of paramount necessity, a community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members.”
More than 116 years later, Jacobson has withstood numerous challenges, and remains the law of the land. It is the guidance that Hawaii would be well served to follow today.
Keaau, Hawaii island
Story didn’t belong on front page of paper
When I opened up the newspaper, I couldn’t believe what I saw as the leading front-page article: COVID-19 misinformation given the most prominent spot, along with a sensationalist headline (“A top state health official and a doctor on Maui are promoting controversial COVID-19 treatments,” Star- Advertiser, Aug. 25).
What a disservice to the public and the medical community as we all struggle to push back the delta variant. At a time when there is an even greater need for reporting facts to promote vaccination and public health and well-being, the entire article provided the stage for erroneous information and opinions.
If it had to be published, it could’ve been placed anywhere but the front page. What a fail.
Changes in bus routes, times inconvenient
As we try to get our 80A Express bus back or, failing that, proposing alternatives such as having one of the other express buses make a stop at University of Hawaii-Manoa, TheBus has again decided to make a bad situation worse.
It just scheduled many of the Route 1L buses to come five to 10 minutes earlier. I used to be able to catch a bus after work ends at 4:30 p.m. to transfer to a 4:55 p.m. 1L bus home. It was a 90-minute commute versus my old 40-minute commute.
Now that bus comes at 4:46 p.m., and I can’t get there in time. The commute home is now closer to two hours. If anyone ever wonders why more people don’t use public transportation here in Hawaii, you can take this example as Exhibit A.
Don’t rush medical aid in dying program
I read with deep concern the article, “Medical aid in dying: demand for doctors” (Star-Advertiser, Aug. 22).
I am most concerned about one of the recommendations of the state Department of Health: waiving all waiting periods if doctors agree the patient will die before the end of the waiting period.
As a practicing hospice and palliative physician before my recent retirement, I have heard many hospice patients express the desire to obtain the lethal medication, saying, “I doubt I will ever use it, but I want the reassurance that I have it just in case.” Such a rationale may make providers much more willing to inappropriately take advantage of the “no waiver” policy and hurriedly rush the process to procure the lethal medication.
One of the greatest impacts hospice programs have on terminal individuals is the ability to control pain and other debilitating symptoms. If the medical aid in dying program is rushed, hospice patients may not get the chance to give hospice programs the opportunity to support patients and control their suffering.
Craig Nakatsuka, M.D.
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