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Your Morning Matters: Tell me you are not an infectious disease expert without telling me you are not an infectious disease expert

The three candidates for Canfield mayor addressed city residents during the first of three informational sessions Wednesday evening.

Good morning and welcome to your Morning Matters.

It's Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, and I am frequently the target of the anti-vaxxer brigade out there. They have many reasons for being skeptical of vaccines that range from Qanon brainwashing to political dogma to a disdain for “big pharma.” In general, I try to listen. There are some smart people who are vaccine-hesitant who at least provide me insight. 

I’ve also got a few medical types who provide me background so that I don’t (frequently) come off as an idiot. And I think it’s important that we get information from experts. As I wrote Sept. 9, “If you believe your ability to read an item on Facebook equates with a medical professional's 20 years of research, go find a mirror. You are the problem.”

This brings me to Andrea67, an anti-vaxxer who has posted on our website about three dozen times since June. This week’s example of her circular logic goes like this: "... if [COVID-19 vaccines] did work vaccinated people wouldn't be afraid of unvaccinated people. If you took the vaccine & it failed to ‘protect’ you how is someone else taking the failure going to protect you? These vaccines don't stop transmission. They supposedly lessen symptoms which doesn't seem true. You can still get covid & get very sick especially if you had [COVID-19] before getting the injection." This logical fallacy is formally called “Post hoc ergo propter hoc,” by the way.

But to people who have never studied vaccines or who don’t have medical experts to point them in the right direction — and also don’t have an ear for logical fallacies — such verbiage might seem to make some sense. It’s utter bull excrement. Some anti-vaxxers want it both ways: Not getting vaccinated thus helping to spread more powerful mutations and then looking at how those mutated creations have impacted the vaccines to say, "See! I'm right! They don't work!" As World Health Organization infectious disease epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove warns, “...  the more the virus spreads the more opportunity it has to change.”

Like all entities on this planet, diseases evolve. Were you aware that we don’t use the exact same polio vaccine as was developed in 1953? My expert buddy pointed me to this fascinating Harvard University study from 2020, “Redesigning the polio vaccine – Lessons from evolution.” So the Salk vaccine of the 1950s was updated several times, including in the late 1980s by the Sabin antipolio vaccine. In 2020, scientists “made five modifications in different areas of the genome and created a new polio vaccine candidate, nOPV2, which is not susceptible to genetic mutations that could cause it to become infectious again.”

Now the science between vaccines is different, but the evolutionary concept remains. And have you noticed? Polio, despite the multiple evolutions of the vaccine since the 1950s, remains not a thing, thanks to SCIENCE. And the reason it is not? Because your mom dragged your butt to the doctor and made you get the shot, and in the end, you just wanted a sucker. As Dr. Rishi Desai, pediatric infectious disease physician and former infectious disease officer for the CDC tweeted yesterday, "I confess — I used to hold VERY strong anti-vaxx beliefs. It was my body and I didn’t want others telling me what to do! But then, everything changed. I turned 5."  

Now, let’s make today count!

Here's what you need to know about the Mahoning Valley today:

The three candidates for Canfield mayor addressed city residents during the first of three informational sessions Wednesday evening. Businessman Don Dragish, Councilman Bruce Neff and Kathryn Young, co-chair of the Park, Recreation and Cemetery Board, are running for the seat soon to be vacated by Mayor Richard Duffett, who announced he would not seek re-election.

Officials also discussed renewal levies, as well as three separate charter amendments set to appear on the Nov. 2 ballot, which would shorten council term limits, allow electors to recall the city manager and prohibit managers from putting city resources toward political action — amendments officials say originated from outside the city as part of a "vindictive" retaliation, led by a union representing city workers. Reporter Justin Dennis has the details.

Pandemic facts

  • In the U.S.: 42,539,373 confirmed cases; 681,111 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University & Medicine at 10 p.m. Sept. 22.
  • In Ohio: 1,358,918 confirmed or suspected cases; 21,596 deaths.
  • In Pennsylvania: 1,392,266 confirmed cases; 28,998 deaths.
  • In the Mahoning Valley: 26,963 confirmed or suspected cases in Mahoning County; 19,866 in Trumbull; and 11,708 in Columbiana.
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average: Closed at 34,258.32, up 338.48 points, or 1.00%.

Other matters

A public forum on gun violence on Sunday, “A Cloud of Witnesses: The Community Speaks,” will be hosted by ACTION in collaboration with Bertram de Souza’s Scribbler Publishing Group. Mahoning Matters

This weekend, the Mahoning County Land Bank will have a rummage sale, and Youngstown CityScape will have a mum sale and open house. Mahoning Matters

More than a year and a half later, what more have scientists learned about masks’ ability to curb coronavirus spread? And are the mask types health officials first recommended still effective as more dangerous variants emerge? We look for answers. Mahoning Matters

American Rescue Plan funds might be limited in scope in addressing community needs that arose from the COVID-19 pandemic, but they can still be used in ways that promote economic development, participants in a Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber forum said. The Business Journal [May encounter paywall.]

The jobless rates in Trumbull and Mahoning counties edged down again in August yet remain among the highest among counties in Ohio, according to the latest unemployment numbers from the state. The Vindicator [May encounter paywall.]

According to the Youngstown State University COVID dashboard, 54 cases of the virus were confirmed between Sept. 12 and 18. Forty of the confirmed cases were among students living off campus; eight students were living on campus; and six employees tested positive. WFMJ

The Youngstown community is mourning the loss of Victoria “Vicky” Allen whose work made Youngstown’s South Side a better place to live. WKBN

In case you missed it

In her "An Inclusive Table" column this week, Eartha A. Hopkins discusses "When meritocracy goes wrong," and notes, "Just as it would take time to develop and support a young player to compete in the professional football arena, the same approach is necessary in the business arena." Mahoning Matters

Your comments matter

“We're living longer and healthier every year. Why the hell should people that generally vote against universal health care for the rest of us get it for themselves even sooner?”

Rodney Garrett, on a new study that says lowering the Medicare eligibility age may have some financial perks for older adults.

Registered readers can comment on a selection of our stories, and all readers can comment on stories on our Facebook page. Opinions published here do not reflect the views of Mahoning Matters.

Event of the day

County-pop singer Brett Young will bring "The Weekends Tour" to the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre, 201 S. Phelps St., Youngstown, at 8 p.m. Opening the concert will be Ryan Hurd and Filmore. Tickets, ranging in price from $35 to $59.75 plus fees, can be purchased at and at the Southwoods Health Box Office at the Covelli Centre.

To see what else is going on around the Mahoning Valley, check out Mahoning Matters’ event calendar here, or click the Events tab on the top menu at

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Mark Sweetwood

About the Author: Mark Sweetwood

Mark Sweetwood has spent 39 years working in the local news business. For more than a decade, he served as managing editor of The Vindicator. He also teaches journalism at YSU.
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