Rep. Gary Drinkwater (R-Milford) wants to bring back a provision of Maine law that allows employees at health care facilities and public school students to request an exemption from vaccination mandates.
LD 51, “An Act to Restore Religious and Philosophical Exemptions to Immunization Requirements,” will have a committee hearing Monday morning.
Turnout is expected to be high.
Maine residents were legally allowed to request exemptions until a 2019 law eliminated those provisions in the name of “protecting” children.
But the law has led to some students being disenrolled from public schools as the result of their family’s religious or philosophical objections to immunizations.
Drinkwater’s bill would restore exemptions and streamline the process for requesting an exemption.
If LD 51 passes, parents of unvaccinated students would merely have to notify the school administrator in writing that they are seeking an exemption for their student.
The bill would also apply to “certain health care facilities,” though it’s not immediately clear which organizations in Maine would fall into that category.
Individuals object to modern vaccines for a host of reasons.
For example, some believe it is morally wrong to take a shot that was produced in part with fetal tissue.
On the philosophical front, others don’t trust the major pharmaceutical companies who produce the vaccines.
Drinkwater said his interest in introducing the bill was primarily to ensure children are not kept out of public schools if their parents have a religious reason for skipping vaccinations.
In February, the Lewiston newspaper reported that as many as 100 school children, many of them the children of immigrants, could potentially be kicked out of the school system because of the lack of vaccination.
“My bill is saying, do not use vaccination as a weapon to unenroll kids,” he said.
“The focus is really on the kids who are being denied an education,” he said.