Letter on WSJ article on shot phobia

Dr. Kaplan’s shot at needle phobias (Stop Taking Shots at Those Who Fear Them, April 9 WSJ) was apparently aimed at me. I don’t watch, but gladly accept the necessity of an occasional prick.

But when he mentions those who are “irresponsible, uninformed or politically manipulated” he should step back and take a more objective look. After agonizing waits for FDA vetting and approval for life saving drugs over the years, why accept a drug without that approval, in addition to immunity from liability for the manufacturers?

Who is really irresponsible, uninformed, and politically motivated in light of the massive transfers of wealth and growth in government dependence that have occurred as a result of this reaction to a virus that kills less than eighteen hundredths of one percent (.18%) of the U.S. population?


Here is the article:

Stop Taking Shots at Those Who Fear Them

Americans who worry about needles and side effects need comfort, not insults.

By Robert M. KaplanApril 8, 2021 6:21 pm ET

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Anthony Fauci receives his first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in Bethesda, Md., Dec. 22, 2020.PHOTO: PATRICK SEMANSKY/POOL/SHUTTERSTOCK

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For several months TV news programs have often featured famous people trying to appear stoic while being jabbed in the arm with a hypodermic needle. To ease viewers’ wariness about Covid vaccines, President Biden, Anthony Fauci and various celebrities agreed to have their shots televised. It may end up discouraging vaccination instead.

Research consistently shows that fear of needles is a significant barrier to vaccine acceptance. One study estimated that about 24% of adults and 63% of children are afraid of needles. Another, from a travelers clinic, found about 22% of respondents ranging in age from 11 to 80 feared injections, and 8% described their own fear as “unreasonable.” A similar rate (22%) was observed in Australian primary-care patients.OPINION: POTOMAC WATCHCovid Vaccines and the WHO’s Report00:001xSUBSCRIBE

summary of 35 studies concluded that 16% of adults and 27% of hospital employees skip flu vaccinations because they fear needles. About 1 in 5 of those afraid of needles report avoiding medical care. Guy’s Hospital in London developed a 10-point scale quantifying the distress associated with needle phobias. Having an injection in the arm is given 10 out of 10 points. Watching someone have an injection on TV rates a 7. Many people who are afraid of needles can’t bear to watch and to turn off the TV or at least avert their gaze. Watching others get medical or dental treatment increases the anxiety.

A second addressable reason for vaccine hesitancy is legitimate concern about side effects. The Covid-19 vaccines have proved safe and effective. But the clinical trials for each of them found more than half of participants experienced a systemic side effect like fatigue, headache or fever. Side effects are common. After being told vaccines are well-tolerated, people who experience significant fatigue or fever sometimes panic. They assume something terrible is happening and their anxiety can quickly get disseminated to the rest of the population. Playing down reactions plays up suspicion and distrust.


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What can be done? Here are three suggestions: First, Americans have seen enough injections delivered in photographs and on TV news. It’d be more useful to devote space and airtime to showing how clinics can make the experience more comfortable. Second, injection centers should set up areas that specialize in helping people with needle anxiety and let the public know how to gain access to them. Fear of needles is much more common in young adults and children—the cohorts now starting to be vaccinated. Third, to prepare people for possible side effects, the media would be wiser to communicate clearly what reactions are common and better instructions about when a vaccine recipient should call his doctor. Some vaccine centers do this well, but most don’t.

Distrust of the establishment plays a role in vaccine hesitancy, but it’s probably time to back off on the prevailing commentary suggesting that those avoiding vaccines are irresponsible, uninformed or politically manipulated. Achieving herd immunity requires that about 70% of Americans are vaccinated or contract Covid and develop natural immunity, which official numbers place around 10% of the population. Polls consistently show that 21% say they will definitely not get the vaccine and about a third rate their chances of taking the vaccine as less than 50%. It’s better to address common fears and concerns respectfully and informatively than with hectoring and condescension.

Dr. Kaplan is a faculty member at the Stanford School of Medicine Clinical Excellence Research Center and the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. He has served as associate director of the National Institutes of Health and chief science officer at the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Dire Deviation

Allan J. McDonald died March 6. He could have been a hero. As an engineer on the Challenger shuttle project he pleaded with management to delay the launch until the weather warmed and fuel cell seals would remain intact.

Management ignored him and seven astronauts perished. Many of us saw it live on TV.

Alan Keyes was a presidential candidate in 1996 and 2000. I shared many of his opinions. I heard him speak at Pork Expo in Des Moines where he declared that farmers should get off the dole. There were five of us who applauded. Every group has their dependence on the state that incentivizes them to deny the negative effects of central planning.

We went to hear Keyes speak at North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC). He had me nodding in agreement. Then the question was asked, “What do you think of the space program?” He was in love with the space program. All this clinging to constitutional principle was tossed out the window in one sentence. He wanted farmers off the dole but not the aerospace industry. Farmers produce food. The space program produced space blankets and celebrity appearances. I do know someone who thinks there would be no internet without the space program.

I hear cries to heed the experts, especially during this time of no colds or flu. McDonald was an expert. What about him? What about experts who point out proven therapies for Covid and never get a public voice. A large study in Africa found, weirdly, that ivermectin, a treatment for parasites, cured Covid. There’s plenty of evidence vitamin D helps us fight Covid. By the way, dark skin inhibits absorption of vitamin D, explaining a disparity based on race in severity of the condition. The media has eagerly blamed such a disparity on systemic racism.

After the drugs Thalidomide and DES were found to produce dire side effects, they were avoided, even for a cattle feed supplement where it was in feed and not contacting humans like it was as a human drug. We heeded theses warnings by experts at the Food and Drug Administration. Now I hear people proclaim they’ve had a Covid shot as if they just learned to ride a bike. Really. After all these years of waiting for rigorous FDA testing for life saving drugs, we are proud to get an unapproved vaccine from a company that has legal immunity for any bad effects?

We might look back some day and ask why. Why this violation of long standing dependence on FDA approval for drugs that could save a loved one, and then dropping the whole protocol in the case of a virus that kills one tenth of one percent of the population.

The CDC reports only 1,900 deaths from the vaccines so far. I guess that would be like the people at the birthday party that was bombed by Obama to get one terrorist. Or the crew of the Challenger who was deemed expendable in the cause of whatever.

Amazon created 500,000 new jobs during the last year. That makes me think of the USDA’s report that found soybean acreage increased by 5%. It comes from somewhere. Your stimulus check comes from somewhere. There are 500,000 fewer people working in their own business or another normally essential business. These are businesses like the taco stand that was burned last summer in Minneapolis.

Blame for these changes can’t go on Allan McDonald’s boss or Anthony Fauci. They have to go on the deviation from the plan. The plan that says individuals are more important than government. Shooting rockets into the air at the expense of a pair of shoes for a kid who never agreed to the deal is wrong. Pushing untested gene altering drugs at the expense of future unknown health effects is wrong. And to see a broad section of society mind-numbingly plodding along with it is disturbing.

Letter to Iowa Farmer Today

Dear Editor,

I appreciate the effort people like Matt Russell (executive director of Interfaith Power and Light) put into a conversation on improving our world. But it reminds me of a recent campaign by former Representative Jim Leach promoting “civil dialogue.” As I listened to him on the radio it was apparent that being civil to him meant agreement, not the sharing and discussion of differing opinions.

Mr Russell obviously assumes “climate change” is caused by human action and that politics can maintain an idyllic climate. A real discussion of climate change would involve more than the “absolutely” “critical” farm bill. It would involve the actual viability and effectiveness of alternative energies that are rammed down our throats even though they wouldn’t exist without subsidies coerced from taxpayers.

When I hear a discussion of how the grid will support widespread use of electric vehicles or civilization’s present lifestyles maintained using these pie-in-the-sky technologies, I’ll change my mind. But until then, the importance of a farm bill indicates an acceptance of totalitarian government and cronyism.

Progress toward new technologies must be driven by market forces, not dictatorship. An example would be farmers adapting no-till because it is more profitable long term, especially in extreme conditions. As it stands, federal crop insurance substitutes for a maintenance of healthy soil and props-up destructive farming practices.

Growing Things

The devastation of fall tillage is everywhere.

Fall tillage is a relic of the Dust Bowl days; a time when technology required tillage to slow competition with the crop. The costs were high. There were houses where the dust blew into attics and the weight collapsed them. The soil became a lifeless medium only serving to store hauled in nutrients and crop roots.

Now we have chemicals to control weeds and planters that can plant corn and soybeans into almost any conditions. There is even an organic farmer who no-tills 5,000 acres in North Dakota. He’s a walking testament that no-till doesn’t limit size or success or require chemicals.

I had a job at a junior college in Oakland as an organic gardening teacher. I knew little of the subject through experience or book learning. What we learned, we learned together. In a way, it was more effective than dozing through lectures.

I had one student who worked at a beneficial insect company. At my house we had a rose bush that was hardly recognizable because of a thick coating of aphids. That student brought a small glass vial with a cotton ball to school and I took it home and put the Green Lacewing eggs in a crotch of the rose bush. Twenty-four hours later there was no sign of an aphid..

Once Dawn and I had paid for the farm and our main helper, Karl, decided to strike out on his own we changed from hog farmers to wildflower seed production. We found a guy in Southwest Iowa who would buy our seeds. They were certified by the Iowa Ecotype Project at the University of Northern Iowa. We planted Pale Purple Coneflower, Rough Blazing Star, Purple Prairie Clover and Side Oats Grama in 30-inch rows. It took a lot of hand weeding because the effect of herbicides was not confirmed through testing.

The Side Oats Grama was interesting. I drove our empty Buffalo Planter over 3.5 acres to create narrow strips of cleared soil. Then I pushed an Earthway hand seeder over those strips. The soil needed to be packed firmly to mimic a natural environment so I drove our dirt bike over the rows.

Soon, fine blades of grass broke the surface and it looked picture perfect. The hard work had paid off, almost. After about another week, wide pale green leaves invaded our beautiful Side Oats stand, right in the row. Most gardeners would recognize the invaders as Crab Grass. Our expensive seed from the university was contaminated. I called the director and he said, “Just keep it mowed for a few years.”

Side Oats Grama grows in an upright manner while Crabgrass creeps along the ground. Clean Side Oats seed could have been harvested by avoiding the lower parts of the canopy but the university isn’t going to go broke because of a poor product.

Eventually the Side Oats survived the competition from the Crabgrass and in subsequent years we sprayed a pre-emergent grass herbicide to control the Crabgrass. Crabgrass is an annual so the herbicide worked on it but allowed the perennial Side Oats to thrive. The seed we sold was pure.

There is some good information coming from the universities lately. No-till and strip-till have proven to be more profitable than growing corn and soybeans with tillage. But professors like that one from U.N.I. have discredited what comes out of the universities.

It’s too bad because we face an impending drought and everything most farmers have done so far this year will make it worse with their destructive tillage practices.