To the editor;
I have just returned from a month in New York City, treating COVID-19 patients at a large hospital, where I learned much related to coronavirus, medical therapy, poverty, race, homelessness, public health, and politics. As a result, I will break with my past to give my endorsement to Anna Kelles for NY Assembly, District 125. I have known Anna for more than 30 years, and have been proud to have her represent us in the Tompkins County Legislature. As a community and a country, we are facing an unprecedented challenge from the the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the logistical difficulties of voting while avoiding infection, it is fortunate that we have an election this fall where we can choose leaders that can begin to meet this challenge.
Anna has a PhD in nutritional science, and lectured at Cornell University in Nutrition and Public Health. She has outstanding training and practice in biology and statistics; our state sorely needs someone skilled in these disciplines as we navigate the complex biology of COVID-19 and use science and statistics to inform decision-making over the next two years. Our Assembly does not currently have a single member who could believably say they fully understand statistics and public health.
I understand that another candidate in this race is not in favor of mandatory vaccination for schoolchildren. All children must be vaccinated for serious and life-threatening diseases, with exceptions only for true allergies or serious immune suppression. Any deviation from this mandate ignores a century of basic science and public health research. Allowing parents to opt out of vaccines endorses a completely self-centered choice, ignoring the vaccine's benefits that come to society as a whole, such as herd immunity. Avoiding immunizing yourself and your children also puts at risk every other person in the community who is immunosuppressed, has poor uptake of a vaccine, or is unvaccinated due to social and financial circumstances.
Unlike Anna, I am not a public health trained scientist. But I am a physician who strongly believes we need a trustworthy representative who makes decisions based on science, logic, and with the benefits to society at the front of mind. After seeing the devastation, both within patients’ bodies and on the streets of NYC, there is no question that we need to protect individuals in our society, as well as our shared economy, by organizing wide-scale testing, contact tracing, and isolation, even if these feel like an infringement on personal liberty. If a vaccine is every successfully developed, we must give it to every child, and every adult who wants to participate in the economy.
Please vote for Anna Kelles in the June 23rd primary and the November 3rd general election.
—John-Paul Mead, MD, FACP