BANGOR- A law that would prevent students from going to school if they aren’t vaccinated will be making its way to the 2020 statewide referendum ballot.
The announcement was made yesterday by the secretary of state.
“When it comes to our children, those decisions should be made by the parents,” said Sarah Kenney, a campaign manager for Mainers for Health and Parental Rights and a mother of three.
With more than 79,000 valid signatures, an effort to repeal a law requiring kids to be vaccinated before attending school put the issue on the March ballot.
Under the current law, the only allowable exemptions would be for medical reasons.
“What this bill will do is actually take away religious and philosophical exemptions,” Kenney said. “It will go into effect in 2021. It will actually kick more than 8,000 kids out of school.”
Medical professionals said vaccinations are responsible for nearly eradicating diseases like measles, mumps, and polio.
They cite a recent decline in the number of people getting vaccinated as the reason for the law.
“Certainly there are a lot of those that talk about individual rights as a reason for declining vaccination, or at least having a better choice about vaccination,” said Dr. James Jarvis, senior physician executive at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center. “We also know people purport false science. The biggest one being the relationship being between vaccination and autism.”
Kenney added because more kids are vaccinated than not, she believes there is only minimal risk for her children.
“This is driven by Big Pharma. This goes ahead and takes away parental rights for me to sit and have conversations with a doctor. That right has been taken away from me,” she added.
Jarvis compared not getting vaccinated to driving recklessly.
If you choose to drive recklessly, because you believe it’s your right to do so, you’re endangering other people on the road, he said.
He added that those who apply that philosophy to vaccination could be putting other people’s health at risk.
“The importance of vaccination is really not just to protect ourselves, but to protect our family, our community, our friends, and frankly the entire state of Maine,” Jarvis said.
The people’s veto will now appear before voters on March 3, 2020, the day of the presidential primary.