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Letters to the Editor 

Hooked on “Hackie”

I just moved to Vermont a few months ago, and I’m already hooked on the biweekly “Hackie” column. Jernigan Pontiac’s writing makes me feel like I’m in the cab with him, and I seem to visualize his stories in surreal false color. Kind of like a waking dream.

Thanks for the column, and keep ’em coming!

Larry Parker

South Burlington

SmallPox Point

Amy Lilly’s review of my book Inside the Outbreaks was fair and accurate [“Public Health Heroes,” April 28], but there was one passage that might mislead readers. In 1965 an EIS officer did object to a Colorado doctor’s “flawed, inflated figures” on adverse reactions to smallpox vaccinations. But the officer agreed that the vaccinations should be halted in the U.S. because, in some cases, life-threatening complications could follow vaccination, including possibly fatal postvaccinal encephalitis (swelling of the brain).

There were 433 people hospitalized as a result of smallpox vaccinations in 1963, about 70 cases per million shots. A total of seven died, yielding a rate of just more than one death per million primary smallpox vaccinations. The number of complications from milder reactions to the vaccine was found to be much higher: more than 450 cases per million vaccinations.

The call to halt routine smallpox vaccination of children in the U.S. sparked a fierce debate in public health circles, but the vaccinations were finally stopped in 1971.

Mark Pendergrast


Abenaki Equity

Shay Totten’s comments on the Abenaki issue were well done [“Fair Game,” April 21]. I know many who are descendants of Abenaki. Vermont has long denigrated their existence here. Their recognition — and the need to preserve their culture — is long past due.

Our state must look to the fate of the poor and elderly. Our tax system with its over-reliance on fees and sales and property taxes, puts an undue burden on those who can least afford it. A $5 increase in the cost of registering a car may not sound like much, but it hurts the cash-strapped Vermonter making $250 a week a lot and the Vermonter making $250,000 a year not at all. We need a more equitable way of funding our state. Thank you for the info on tax rates.

W.A. McLaughlin

South Burlington

Religious Discrimination?

[Re: Letters in “Feedback,” April 28 and

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