Vote no on Question 1

To the editor,

Vaccines have become a victim of their own success. Many parents of school aged children, do not remember what it is like to have the Measles, or Polio. This is because we all needed to be vaccinated to attend school.

Maine’s school vaccination opt out rates surpass the national average, leaving vaccination rates below what is needed for herd immunity for many vaccine-preventable illnesses. More than 40 elementary schools in Maine had vaccination rates below 85 percent. (95 percent is the CDC
recommendation for herd immunity). During the 2018-19 school year in Scarborough, Eight Corners had a 1.3 percent opt-out rate; Pleasant Hill 2.9 percent; and Blue Point a dangerous 13.1 percent vaccination opt-out rate. These exemptions were all listed as philosophical. (Maine CDC Immunization Assessment Reports.)

Exemption rates like this put our children in Scarborough at risk for contracting dangerous, vaccine-preventable illnesses.

Last year, the US saw a Measles outbreak more than triple the size of the previous year. The majority of those cases were in unvaccinated populations. We do not want to see an outbreak in Maine among our school children. Maine already leads the nation in whooping cough outbreaks. Vaccines work, and we have decades of evidence that vaccines are overall safe — much safer than the illnesses that these vaccines protect against.

Advertisement

While this law eliminates the philosophical and religious exemptions, it opens up the medical exemption process to allow families to work with their Doctors, Physician Assistants, and Nurse Practitioners to give medical exemptions based on their professional assessment and judgement.

Parental choice to vaccinate or not remains. If a family still chooses not to vaccinate, then they are simply making a choice to homeschool. This law is not discriminatory and does not violate religious rights. In fact, all organized religions have made statements encouraging vaccination.

By encouraging vaccination rates above herd immunity levels, Maine will be able to protect our most vulnerable; infants too young to be vaccinated, the elderly, and children who may have weakened immune systems. These community members are more susceptible to the serious adverse effects from diseases such as measles, polio, pertussis, and meningitis that we are so privileged to not see much anymore. The time to act is now, before outbreaks happen.

Please join us and over 4,800 other doctors and health care providers, on March 3 to vote no on Question 1 and Protect Maine’s Children.

Dr. Cliff Rubin, DO, MS and Brandie Rubin, BS, RN

filed under: