Looking around Portland in the last few weeks, I’ve noticed a lot of signs demanding “Reject Big Pharma,” which confused me, as I was unaware of any measure on the ballot that was looking to tackle large pharmaceutical companies. And there isn’t any.

“Reject Big Pharma” signs are at best misleading, and at worst an outright lie to Maine voters. This ballot measure is designed to overturn the law that makes it mandatory for schoolchildren and teachers to get vaccines. It’s not about drug prices or fighting opioids, or, really, taking on the pharmaceutical companies in any way. Their campaign promotes a very small, very narrow agenda that is looking to delegitimize necessary vaccinations for kids and educators.

I’m not sure when or why this became a partisan issue, as it seems to me that public health should be a universal concern.

But in 2019, according to Ballotpedia, 91 percent of Maine’s elected Republican legislators voted against the measure to ensure every Maine child was vaccinated. When did the Republican Party decide that they were anti-vaccinations? Is this simply a partisan reaction (i.e., “If the Democrats are for it, I’m against it”)?

As voters, we expect more of our elected representatives. If you’ve been elected to public office, and you truly believe that Mainers are better off not getting vaccinated, then be proud to talk about that in your ads, emails, speeches, fundraisers, etc. If not, please get out of your partisan bubble and protect us, our kids and our schools.

Kate Keefer


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