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Sample Letter to the Editor

Writing a letter to the editor of a local or national newspaper or magazine in response to a recent article is an effective way to make your voice heard.

There’s no guarantee that your letter will be published, but there’s a sure fire way that it won’t be: if you don’t write it. So when you see an article about research or funding and have something to say, write it quickly and send it into your local paper’s editors.

Editors Can’t Publish Letters They Don’t Receive

The newspaper’s or magazine’s Web site and editorial page should have contact information and guidelines for how to submit a letter. The New York Times‘ letters editor has written a tip sheet for ways to make your letter more publishable, offering advice that applies to most publications. In general, keep your letter short, include your full contact information, submit it soon after the original article-ideally within 24 hours-and make one point, clearly and with conviction.

Sample Letter to the Editor

This letter was published in The Washington Post to raise awareness of the importance of vaccines.

Regarding the May 25 Local Digest item “Measles case reported in Montgomery County”:

The confirmed case of measles in Maryland demonstrates the importance of public awareness about the safety and efficacy of vaccines. Unfortunately, perhaps because cases of previously common infectious diseases are no longer the experience of every family, getting a vaccination may seem unnecessary. Public confidence in vaccines has slipped over the past decade, according to a recent survey commissioned by Research!America. Seventy-seven percent of Americans say they are at least somewhat confident in the current system in the United States for evaluating the safety of vaccines and recommendations for when they should be given, a decrease of eight percentage points from 10 years ago. Fifty-nine percent of respondents strongly believe they have benefited from the development of vaccines over the past 50 years, a 16-percentage-point decrease from 2008.

Communication is an important first step in combating misinformation about the importance of vaccines in keeping infectious disease at bay. We urge all public-health officials and all physicians and health-care providers to have more substantive conversations to encourage individuals young and old to take advantage of the lifesaving benefits of vaccinations.

Combating misinformation about vaccines” By Mary Woolley (The Washington Post, May 29, 2018)