In a recent letter (“Vaccine law discriminates against religious objectors,” April 5), Heather Connolly of Gorham criticizes L.D. 798, which removes religious exemptions with respect to vaccination of schoolchildren. As she puts it, those exemptions “previously allowed parents to make personal medical decisions for their children and opt out of a medical intervention which does not comply with their personal religious beliefs.”

Hannah Goss of Gray holds 6-month-old Stewart while he receives a pertussis vaccination from medical assistant Erin Kinney at Martin’s Point Health Care Center in Brunswick in 2019. A law that eliminates nonmedical exemptions  from childhood vaccinations will take effect Sept. 1. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer, File

This way of expressing the concept is a little misleading. Those parents were making decisions not just for their children but also for the entire community. If a child without vaccination for, say, pertussis (whooping cough) contracts the disease and passes it on, another person could experience these symptoms: “Thick mucus accumulates inside your airways, causing uncontrollable coughing. Severe and prolonged coughing attacks may provoke vomiting, result in a red or blue face, and cause extreme fatigue,” according to Mayo Clinic staff.

Ms. Connolly continues: “In 45 other states in our nation, all children have equal access to education regardless of their race, gender, religion, disability or personal medical status.”

Unlike Ms. Connolly, I am thankful that I live in one of just five states that seeks to reduce the chances that I or my neighbors will be forced to experience, through no fault of our own, the above unpleasant symptoms.

William Vaughan Jr.
Chebeague Island

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