Four days after he took office for a second term as a state representative last December, Republican Randall Greenwood of Wales answered a question he posted on Facebook: “Will you take the coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available?”

State Rep. Randall Greenwood, R-Wales, posted this profile picture on Facebook a few months ago. Submitted photo

His answer? “Hell NO.”

After almost a year of repeatedly raising doubts and questions about the vaccine for COVID-19, which data indicates is highly effective and safe, Greenwood fell ill with the disease in late October.

The 48-year-old small business owner and father of three wound up on a ventilator during a 12-day stay at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Lewiston, according to friends. He recovered enough that doctors cleared the way for him to return home last week.

Greenwood, who could not be reached by the Sun Journal for comment the past two weeks, told the Bangor Daily News that he had a “rough bout” with COVID-19.

Despite his experience with COVID-19, he’s not ready to get the vaccine that public health experts around the world tout as the best way to avoid getting slammed by the deadly virus that spawned the current pandemic during the winter of 2020.

“I still think there are potential bad side effects of the vaccination,” Greenwood told the Bangor paper. “The more research I do, the more I’m not sure vaccination is the right choice.”

There is no peer-reviewed research that suggests vaccination is a poor choice. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and medical and public health organizations have recommended that, aside from a small number of medically vulnerable people, everyone should get vaccinated.

The New York Times has gathered statistics nationally showing that unvaccinated people are six times as likely to come down with COVID-19, and they are 12 times more likely to die from it than people who are vaccinated.

Dr. Nirav Shah, who heads Maine’s Center for Disease Control & Prevention, said Monday that Maine set a new record for the number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations, hitting 275 cases, including 74 in intensive care. Thirty-four are on a ventilator, he said.

“What’s driving transmission right now are pockets of unvaccinated folks,” said Shah, who has pushed Mainers to get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.

Greenwood posted many times on his public Facebook page in the past year downplaying the severity and threat of COVID-19, fighting mask mandates and questioning the need for vaccines.

Last month, state Rep. Randall Greenwood posted on Facebook about his opposition to mandatory vaccines. Submitted photo

In March he posted, “People aren’t actually bothered by you not wearing a mask. If it was such a big deal, they would just stay away from you.”

Greenwood continued, “They are bothered that you’re disobedient. They are bothered that your strength shines a light on their weakness.”

Facebook deleted some of his other comments because it determined that they were not true, and posted warnings on some comments to try to steer people toward facts about masking and vaccines.

Mixed in among his anti-vaccine and anti-masking comments were posts advocating Republican proposals to counter the measures Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, has taken to try to hold down the number of COVID-19 cases in Maine.

Though it is impossible to say her mandates and rules are the reason, there are only two states in the country that have lower per capita rates of COVID-19 than Maine since the start of the pandemic: Vermont and Hawaii, which have had restrictive rules similar to those imposed in Maine.

Greenwood is a second-term legislator who has served in the past as an Androscoggin County commissioner and a local official in Wales. He urged residents in September to sign a petition asking Regional School Unit 4 — which includes the towns of Litchfield, Sabattus and Wales — to avoid a universal masking requirement.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.