I began a 36 year career at Parke Davis Co. in 1960, working at their vaccine manufacturing facility in Rochester. Parke Davis, in the late 1800s, was granted the first pharmaceutical license issued by our government. Construction of the Parkedale Biological Farms complex near Rochester began in 1901. The vaccines manufactured for a hundred years by the people of Parkedale prevented the spread of infectious diseases, improving the quality of life and extending life for millions of us.

A few of the major vaccines manufactured at Parkedale were small pox, chicken pox, tetanus, polio and flu. During World War II horses were injected with toxins, bled periodically and the blood processed to produce tetanus vaccine. One mare, old Bess, produced a million doses of vaccine for our troops. She was buried by the flag pole on a hill at Parkedale. Millions of troops were given this vaccine. If it weren’t for that vaccine a lot of our grandfathers would have died from their wounds and a lot of people, including anti-vaxxers, wouldn’t have been born!

When I came to Parke Davis the manufacturing of polio vaccine was ramping up. We received monkeys by the plane load from Africa and India. They were tested for tuberculosis and other diseases, injected with vitamins and their health monitored for weeks. Their kidneys were then harvested and used to propagate the polio virus. Some of the monkeys were used as test animals for the virus and the vaccine potence. A few would become crippled and drag themselves across the cage floor. That was sad, but back then a live host was necessary to grow many of the viruses needed to produce vaccines. Every evening when I came home and our daughter could run across the room and greet me—not drag herself because of polio—I would thank God for the scientists and the doctors who developed the method of propagation and process that produced the vaccine. I always found it difficult to comprehend why some parents would withhold the protection of the vaccine for their children.

Today we have Americans who believe that requiring a COVID vaccination is an infringement of their civil liberties. In a society such as ours, liberties come with obligations—obligations to our family, friends, co-workers and country. This pseudo-libertarianism we have in our society today is hypocritical. To experience real civil rights infringements, you just have to experience the boarding process at any commercial airport. Your personal data collected from credit cards, cell phones and internet usage are sold to hackers and scammers around the world. The use of facial recognition technology by our government will have a negative impact on ours and future generation’s civil liberties. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis wants to ban mask mandates in school. I would think a school superintendent should make that call if the number of COVID cases in the community warrant it; not by a governor who is trying to placate the tourism industry.

These pseudo-patriots and out of touch politicians are modern day Don Quixotes. They fight imaginary evils and, in their minds, they think they are saving the country. They fight use of a vaccine that can stop the worst pandemic we have experienced in 100 years. Last August we had some 40,000 COVID cases a day. This August we have reached 140,000 a day. Are these the brightest and most astute protectors of our civil liberties we have today? God help America.

—Tom Janicki,