Re: “ ‘Let the virus’ run its course, a Seattle-area school district official said on Facebook” [Aug. 27, Education]:

I was dismayed to read of the inaccurate portrayal of the global smallpox epidemic by Issaquah School District’s Chief Financial Officer, Jake Kuper. He believes that smallpox ceased to be a problem by simply letting it “run its course,” and that we should do the same with COVID-19.

It’s disturbing and ironic that an official of an educational system would not bother to educate himself on the very topic about which he is spouting off. The first hit on a Google search about smallpox being “eradicated or endemic” reveals detailed histories of how, through the discovered practice of “variolation” (intentionally causing a mild smallpox infection in a person with scabs or pus) led to the discovery of vaccination through the work of British surgeon Edward Jenner in the late 1700. He infected people with the milder cowpox virus, which created cross immunity to smallpox.

Vaccination is still our best means of containing COVID, along with masking, distancing and general prudence. The word “freedom” rings hollow to the families of the more than 636,000 Americans who have died of COVID. Categorizing vaccinations and masks as simple “personal choice” matters is incredibly self-centered and self defeating for our entire country.

Mark H. Backlund, M.D., Anacortes

Correction: British surgeon Edward Jenner was credited with the discovery of vaccination for his work in the late 1700s. A previous version of this letter stated his work was done in the late 1800s.