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Forum, May 12: Vaccines help protect the whole community

Published: 5/11/2021 10:00:04 PM
Modified: 5/11/2021 10:00:02 PM
Vaccines help protect the whole community

As vaccine uptake increases, and as the numbers of COVID-19 infections and deaths decrease, we have reason to be thankful. Quarantine measures are being relaxed, along with mandates to mask and social-distance. Still, just as some have refused to distance or wear a mask, there are now those who, for one reason or another, are reluctant to be vaccinated. Let me speak for a whole group of people whose lives depend on the willingness of those who hold that position to rethink it. Some members of your community desperately need you to be vaccinated, and not just for your well-being — for theirs.

Some have multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis, asthma or lupus or vasculitis and are being treated with corticosteroids. Others have a blood cancer, such as leukemia, and are being treated with drugs that inhibit the cancer cells’ ability to replicate. Many have other forms of cancer, or have had organ transplants necessitating treatment that suppresses the immune response. In some people the disease itself weakens the immune system: HIV, sickle-cell disease and anemia, for example.

For all of these people — friends, neighbors, co-workers — the failure of others to be vaccinated can prove deadly. Because, while they themselves may have been vaccinated, the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine in immunocompromised people is still unknown, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society reported, if COVID-19 is spread to them by those who remain unvaccinated, immune-compromised people, such as blood cancer patients, “are at risk for more severe COVID-19 outcomes, including more prolonged periods of illness and higher death rates.”

This may be one case when you can actually save a life. You may not know whose life, but you can save it by being vaccinated. Conversely, if you are not vaccinated, you could be responsible for someone losing his or her life. You probably won’t know either way. But it is something to think about when you say to yourself: “Vaccination? Nope. Not me.”



How to help an overwhelmed India

Accompanied by my wife and three kids, I went to crowded Calcutta in 1964. I worked in a small pediatric hospital with the Johns Hopkins University Center for Medical Research and Training. I returned to the U.S. in 1966, but Johns Hopkins is still there, and the population of India has almost tripled.

Indeed, Hopkins is in the midst of India’s fight against COVID-19, which daily counts 400,000 new cases. That’s more than half the population of Vermont. With 3,500 daily COVID-19, deaths India is overwhelmed.

We are all citizens of this small planet. As an alum of Hopkins (renamed Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) and of Calcutta (renamed Kolkata) I feel a responsibility to urge my fellow Upper Valley residents to help India. One way is by sending contributions through the Johns Hopkins India Institute COVID-19 Task Force:


West Fairlee

What’s the value of a patch of dirt?

What is the value of a cubic yard (approximately 27 cubic feet) of dirt? If you are a real estate developer, you might measure it in dollars ($20-$35). If you are a resident of Quail Hollow, the value is more likely measured in units of gratitude, ambition and hope.

On Mother’s Day I rose early to amend a 4-foot by 8-foot raised bed with organic compost. As I took a break, I marveled at how ambitious the residents of Quail Hollow have been of late. It was uplifting to see how gracefully the members of this generation have emerged from their COVID-19 cocoons and embraced the spring thaw with gardening. The frosts of these past few weeks have not deterred their resolute pursuit to raise vegetables and flowers. It speaks to their resilient spirit.

As I completed the turning of the soil, I looked across the bed of garlic planted by Cathy Chadburn, my mother-in-law. I remember her explaining to me how garlic should be planted in the fall. She planted approximately three dozen cloves and mulched them with hay. She described to me the process of how the garlic would emerge through the straw (there to protect from spring frost). She talked about how the scapes could be sauteed as a side to our Friday night dinners, which would undoubtedly resume once the dangers of COVID-19 had passed. Although it had escaped me at the time, I am absolutely awed by the hope that she expressed as she tucked each clove in for the winter.

So the buzz among the gardeners at Quail Hollow is that this is the last season to enjoy these 20 or so plots. Next year, their gardens will be bulldozed so that ground can be broken for another building to be erected up on the hill. Clearly, we need housing for our seniors, but I am left wondering, what is the cost of dirt?



Cultural self-awareness is a ‘mood-killer’?

Can we just stop using the word “woke” when what we really mean is a growing cultural self-awareness and an evolving understanding? I have no capacity to understand someone like Orlando Sentinel guest columnist Jonathan VanBoskerck, who was quoted in the May 8 Washington Post story “Disney’s ‘woke’ moves spark a conservative backlash.” Frankly, he evinces a kind of arrested development when, as (presumably) an adult, he claims that the changes Disney is making by recognizing and changing rides and entertainments that demean girls and women (such as the “wench auction” in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride) and people of color (Splash Mountain/Song of the South and Jungle Cruise) are “a mood killer.” For heaven’s sake!

It’s really pretty simple. As human beings we live together. Living together in harmony requires awareness of the other. Awareness comes from listening to the stories of one another’s lived experience and recognizing the truth of that experience even if it is different from one’s own. Changes that can lessen pain in the experience of living is good for all of us.

Wow. A “mood killer” because an entertainment venue has determined creative changes enhance the experience for more people. Grow up.



West Windsor Historical Society seeks directors

The West Windsor Historical Society is seeking new directors to revitalize the organization and ensure a thriving future. This will allow the historical society to grow in ways that can only be imagined, by fresh eyes with new visions. Many current directors, including some members of the board, are ready to step back after being active for the past decade, to allow other voices to be heard. The future of the West Windsor Historical Society requires your energy to move it in a new direction.

The historical society’s board meets quarterly on the second Thursday of every third month, at 6 p.m., at the Grange Hall in Brownsville. Our next scheduled meeting is June 10. For more information, please contact Phil Hamilton at



The writer is a director of the West Windsor Historical Society.

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