This Thursday, the Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs of the Maine State Legislature will hold a public hearing on vaccine-related legislation.
Please consider submitting written testimony on one, two, three or all four bills. LD 96 and LD 833 are of particular focus, but I welcome you to address whichever bills feel most important.
Bill Summaries are below — Please read on or visit mainefamiliesforvaccines.com for more information about how to submit testimony or give spoken testimony.
L.D. 96 – An Act To Create Fairness in the Treatment of Students by Retaining Students with Certain Vaccine Exemptions. This bill would allow previously exempt students to be grandfathered a non-medical exemption provided they have been counseled on the risks and benefits of immunization by a licensed physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant. If this bill passes, it would effectively delay any improvement to immunization rates until all exempt students age out of the education system. 48% of Maine’s kindergartens are already under the immunity thresholds for diseases like measles, pertussis, and chicken pox, which is why immediate action was needed. Maine can’t afford to wait 12 years for outbreaks of these preventable diseases to subside.
L.D. 156 – An Act To Promote School Attendance by Exempting Virtual Public Charter School and Private School Students from Immunization Requirements. This bill would allow virtual public charter school and in-person private school students to claim religious and philosophical exemptions from immunization requirements. The in-person private school exemption from the law could have the disastrous consequence of concentrating hot spots of non-immunized students, increasing the risk of outbreaks.
L.D. 833 – An Act To Amend the Laws Governing Vaccines by Reinstating Religious Exemptions. This bill would reinstate the religious exemption and undo the legislation that 72.5% of Mainers upheld in a popular vote. This legislation undermines Maine’s popular vaccine law. Major religions endorse vaccination and have no prohibition against vaccination. When other states like Vermont removed the philosophical exemption, religious exemptions were abused. We need to make sure we’re heard loud and clear for the last time: Mainers overwhelmingly support strong school vaccine laws, and we won’t compromise when it comes to our children’s’ health and safety.
L.D. 1082 – An Act To Improve Educational Opportunities by Exempting Children Who Attend Virtual Public Charter Schools from Immunization Requirements and Expanding Enrollment at Virtual Public Charter Schools
This bill would exempt children who attend virtual public charter schools from immunization requirements.
Submitting Written Testimony
- Go to www.mainelegislature.org/testimony
- Select “Public Hearing” and the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee
- Choose Thursday, May 6 at 10:00 a.m.
- Click on “Choose File” to upload a Word document or PDF with your brief testimony
- Fill in your personal information the bottom of the form (name, town, email, phone number)
- Click “I’m not a robot” and “submit/register.”
If you would like to speak during the testimony, you may do so. If you would like to get real-time updates about timing, please contact Caitlin Gilmet (ccd here) who will be coordinating testimony for the session.
Talking Points For Testimony
- We are the coalition of providers, hospitals, health care systems, nurses and community organizations who support Maine’s vaccine laws, public health, child safety, and fair access to education.
- Immunizations prevent deadly disease and the disruption that outbreaks bring to our schools and communities.
- Maine’s vaccine law was overwhelmingly supported by 72.5% of voters and the legislature.
- These bills undo the solution to the problem: dangerously high rates of unvaccinated children and outbreaks of infectious disease.
- Maine set the standard for public health and safety in passing our school-ready vaccine law; other states have followed our lead.
- We need to get kids back in school this fall— when we get them back in school after the pandemic, we cannot afford to have shutdowns due to vaccine-preventable diseases.