May 30, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Vaccination Is Not a Personal Decision

In response to the letter to the editor by David Gulko (January 20, 2022) urging the withdrawal of vaccine-related rules, I would like to address the two main issues he raises. First, while acknowledging the data showing that vaccines reduce the symptoms of those suffering from the omicron variant of COVID, Gulko states that whether to vaccinate “is a personal decision that does not affect anyone other than the individual and their family.” This is false and ignores the impact that being exposed has on non-family individuals. Moreover, the same arguments can be made for masks. If omicron is not serious and can only affect my immediate family, why should I have to wear a mask? Of course, if I am exposed to someone not vaccinated who is shedding virus, my risk of infection increases and the chances of other variants developing increases significantly.

Unfortunately, Gulko’s attitude has been accepted by too many lay and religious leaders in the North Jersey area whose silence has kept me and others from attending indoor services for two years.

That said, Gulko is entitled to his opinion and I have no problem with the Link publishing that aspect of his letter. However, Gulko cites a Wall Street Journal opinion piece co-written by Luc Montagnier, a Nobel laureate, in support of his argument. This is the same Nobel laureate who has spent the last 20 years promoting baseless claims about vaccination and homeopathy. He is a known anti-vaxxer who, a year after winning the Nobel Prize for co-discovering HIV, claimed that a good immune system is enough to protect one from AIDS.

In the WSJ op-ed, Montagnier relies on a study that purportedly found that vaccinated people were more susceptible to omicron infection than non-vaccinated people. This finding was based on a study performed in Denmark that, in fact, never suggested that finding. The authors of that study instead wrote that their findings “highlight the need for massive rollout of vaccinations and booster vaccinations.” The authors explained further that different behavior and exposure patterns for the vaccinated and unvaccinated caused underestimation of the vaccines’ effectiveness.

Numerous fact checkers have addressed the Danish study and found it was misrepresented. Accordingly, anti-vaccination positions relying on the false findings of the study have been banned by much of social media. The Link should have done the same. Publishing unfiltered anti-vaccination propaganda can only hurt the community serviced by the Link.

Michael Berman
Fair Lawn, NJ
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