Timely vaccinesThe article "Many babies behind on shots...

the Forum

November 04, 1994

Timely vaccines

The article "Many babies behind on shots, researchers say" (Oct. 12) announced that the federal government is launching a program this month called the Federal Vaccine for Children program.

It is appalling that more than 50 percent of babies in the United States fail to get immunized in the first seven months of their lives. As a result of legal requirements to have children immunized by school age, some have managed to catch up.

However, for every child fortunate enough to overcome the risk of developing diseases due to the lack of timely vaccines there is another child who suffered and possibly died.

Medical specialists recommend that children get immunized early because they are at greater risk in the first year of their lives for contracting such diseases as spinal meningitis and whooping cough.

There are many reasons why families neglect having their children vaccinated at the proper intervals. The most common factor is cost. Imagine a family with six school-age children who all need at least three vaccines each at a cost of approximately $60 per shot.

The Federal Vaccine for Children Program is definitely long overdue as a way of decreasing the number of children who go without proper immunization in their first year of life.

Children will now be protected from diseases for just a few pennies a day. The federal government should be applauded for developing such a program during a time when so many people have gotten away from helping others.

Who knows, maybe an attitude for national health reform is beginning to emerge.

Sharen Epps

Baltimore

Homicide victim

I am writing in response to Mike Littwin's column "Reflections on a broken windshield . . . " (Oct. 26) about 61-year-old Nathaniel Hurt, who shot and killed 13-year-old Vernon Holmes after breaking the windshield of his '83 Chevy.

Mr. Littwin writes that although the killing wasn't justified, many neighbors still feel sympathy for the shooter and even helped bail him out.

I feel that any killing is unacceptable, short of self-defense. The fact that the boy was shot in the back tells me that Hurt's life was nowhere near being in danger.

Vernon Holmes was probably running away for fear of being caught. Even if the boy had a gun (which he did not), could he really have been in a position to use it?

We can speak of violent teen-agers all we want, but the reality is that the murder rate in this country was actually higher in 1980 than it was in 1991.

News programs and talk shows are constantly telling us how dangerous it is out there. The media jump on every story about teen-agers commiting crime. We have become afraid of walking down the street alone when the truth is that it was just about as dangerous years ago.

I am not condoning the actions of Vernon Holmes. Breaking somebody's windshield is absolutely wrong. We should be angry, outraged, and shocked and wonder where his guidance is. But was killing him justified, even a little?

The answer is no. It never is. Once we think that murder is warranted for petty crimes such as this, we start to accept violence and murder as a normal part of society. And it is never normal.

Steven Foltz

Columbia

Sinking ship

Regarding the Constellation, that chip off the old ship that lies moldering in the Baltimore harbor, I recommend that it be ceremoniously decommissioned, towed out to sea and sunk.

Before anyone gets completely unhinged by such a suggestion, allow me to say I am not against historic preservation. But I am not also for restoring or preserving everything that is old -- historic or not.

In particular, I am against the expensive and extensive restoration contemplated for this ship.

A restoration of this magnitude would obliterate the uniqueness of the original ship compared to what lies in the harbor now. Tourists would gawk at fraudulent planks and pegs manufactured in Hong Kong or Taiwan that masqueraded as "colonial."

Aside from the subterfuge, the cost is staggering. Estimates range from $7 million to $25 million. The well is not inexhaustible. One should consider carefully any enterprise as expensive as this.

If someone or some agency feels a crying need to extract that kind of money from corporate or individual donors in Greater Baltimore there are many endeavors that look to the future -- rather than to the past -- that would benefit citizens more immediately.

Three that occur to me are public education, the arts and the sciences, both basic and applied.

Perhaps a few million for the Enoch Pratt Free Library would be a good start for someone bent on raising large sums of money for the city's benefit.

It might not bring in many tourists, or fill any hotel rooms or shops. But it just might benefit the citizens for a change.

Russ Seese

Aberdeen

Get disruptive students out of the classroom

Your article "Violence erupts at Patterson" (Oct. 26) again focuses on the problems facing the city public schools.

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