Dear Mr. Abdi Nor Iftin,

I am a native Mainer, relocated to the sunnier state of Colorado, but I return annually to the Lakes Region to visit family and enjoy all that a good Maine summer has to offer. I love Maine and am continually impressed by her pragmatic politics and what I perceive as her socially responsible community. I understand you immigrated from Somalia, and I hope you feel welcome, safe and comfortable in your new home state and nation.

For about a year, I have worked as a COVID-19 health educator and as a manager on the contact-tracing team for my local public health department. Part of my work is educating people about and advocating for COVID-19 vaccines, so my mother expected I would be interested in your column from this summer, “Those who refuse vaccine are un-American.” Indeed, I was.

Thank you for sharing your important perspective about the vaccine. So many of us Americans take our extreme privilege for granted, naïve to the realities and suffering outside (and often inside) our borders. And we take our freedoms for granted, failing to recognize that with freedom and privilege come responsibility – to make responsible choices that benefit not only ourselves as individuals, but also take into account our local, national and international communities. I couldn’t agree with you more – getting the COVID-19 vaccine is an American duty. It is the very least we can do to protect ourselves and our communities and to do our part to bring an end to the global suffering caused by this pandemic.

I believe you are the very best example of why the United States must continue to warmly welcome immigrants – someone who understands, appreciates and advocates for true American values. I hope you will continue to confidently share your viewpoint with Lakes Region Weekly readers and beyond.


Anne W. Brown
Telluride, Colorado