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Saturday, June 3, 2023
June 3, 2023

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In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: Vaccines save lives; Veterans Affairs falters

The Columbian

Cheers: To childhood vaccines. For generations, American children routinely have received vaccines to protect against measles, mumps, rubella and other childhood diseases. Older Americans can probably remember when polio was a persistent threat to public health — before the advent of a vaccine in 1955. Now, the Food and Drug Administration has authorized COVID-19 vaccines for children younger than 5.

Vaccines for adults and older children have proven to be safe and effective, and researchers in the United Kingdom estimated this week that those vaccines have prevented nearly 20 million deaths globally. Yet the virus continues to linger. “I think people kind of, for better or worse, kind of don’t care anymore,” one local expert told The Columbian. “We’re just going to trek along and try to manage the illness and continue to message on best ways to stay well.” The best way is to be fully vaccinated.

Jeers: To stunted cherry growth. The impact of extreme weather can be seen in this year’s cherry crop, which is expected to be the smallest in nearly a decade. Unseasonable snow in April stunted growth, and severe rains have further damaged and delayed the crop.

Last year, growers had to deal with a record-setting heat wave in late June. This year, growers in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah and Montana expect to harvest about 15 million 20-pound boxes of cherries — the lowest total since 2013. That likely will mean higher prices for consumers and for processors who use cherries in various products. Of the vagaries in the weather, one grower told Crosscut.com: “It’s unprecedented. It’s hard to plan for that.”

Cheers: To innovation. A recent article in The Columbian highlights several Clark County businesses that are turning this region into a hub for tech startup companies. “The culture of support among startup entrepreneurs in Clark County stands out,” said Marnie Farness of the Columbia River Economic Development Council. “Peer startup companies make time to connect with each other and share resources.”

The Northwest long has been lauded for nurturing innovative companies. While none of the new endeavors are likely to grow into the next Amazon, they add vibrancy to the local economy and help inspire the next wave of entrepreneurs.

Jeers: To the VA. The draft of a Veterans Affairs report indicates that an electronic health records system at a Spokane hospital might be doing more harm than good. The report identifies 148 cases in which the system failed to forward treatment orders from doctors and nurses without informing the senders of the error.

The revelation has led the VA to delay planned rollouts of the system at hospitals in Portland, Seattle and Boise, Idaho. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, said: “The details from this draft report are deeply disturbing and have serious implications for our nation’s veterans.” Various problems have plagued the VA system for years; our veterans deserve better.

Cheers: To responsive government. Clark County’s Public Works department has scheduled a virtual/in-person open house for Aug. 11 to provide information about a proposed project along Northeast 179th Street.

After several local residents complained about being left out of the planning process and being surprised by the proposal, the county council recommended the open house. Some residents likely will be unhappy with the plans while others will embrace them. But involving the public in the process and listening to the concerns of residents is an important facet of representative government.