Governor Janet Mills has been quite busy since she took office in January, making it a point to help pass legislation that was stalled indefinitely by former Governor Paul LePage.
Her most recently signed law is a little more timely, however.
Governor Mills Just signed LD 798:
"An Act To Protect Maine Children and Students from Preventable Diseases by Repealing Certain Exemptions from the Laws Governing Immunization Requirements"
The bill's sponsor, Representative Ryan Tipping of Orono, said of the bill's signing:
"As we hear more reports of measles and other preventable diseases in Maine and across the country, it has become clear that we must act to ensure the health of our communities."
"I am grateful to my colleagues for working so hard on this bill and to Governor Mills for supporting this measure to protect our kids. I look forward to seeing this implemented and keeping our schools and daycares safe."
According to the CDC, vaccination has reduced deaths from measles by 80% since 2000.
Ensuring vaccination among those who have not yet been inoculated is the only way to halt the outbreaks of the disease we are seeing today.
This bill goes a long way toward ensuring those vaccinations, as it prevents parents from simply opting not to vaccinate their children for religious or philosophical reasons then sending them to public schools, day cares and post-secondary schools.
Parents who choose to homeschool and hire their own in home childcare will be free to continue to not vaccinate their children.
The bill, now law set for enaction in 2021, still allows for medical exemptions such as if a person is allergic to one of the vaccine components or if their immune system is too compromised to be safely vaccinated.
Health care facility staffers are also subject to the law and will be required to be up-to-date on vaccinations unless they have reason for a medical exemption.
Students and healthcare workers who are not currently vaccinated, or are missing some required vaccines, have until 2021 to get them.
Maine became the fourth state alongside California, Mississippi and West Virginia to remove religious exemptions for vaccines for students attending schools outside their own homes.
Reaction to Mills' signing on social media was mixed, with many attempting to incite fear and anger in those who are opposed to vaccination.
The voice of reason was also present, however.
@BradWGME @WGME Sounds appropriate. A person’s individual freedom of choice ends where it directly threatens the li… https://t.co/QQ6GFeWkf0— Jeff P (@Jeff P)1558637849.0
@BradWGME @WGME It's not the state's job to protect people from their unfounded fears. It IS the state's job to pro… https://t.co/zWGFVnNPtS— Karin Leuthy (@Karin Leuthy)1558675423.0
@thehill Tough call to make, but I see their point in the light of recent events.— Donna Marie (@Donna Marie)1558793188.0
@upnorthlive Yes. It's a matter of public safety— Mahk (@Mahk)1558760297.0
@Local12 About damn time— Scott Conrad (@Scott Conrad)1558738714.0
With Maine's first case of measles since 2017 officially recognized by the CDC, measures like this seem more necessary than ever.
The youth who was infected had been previously vaccinated and has since fully recovered from the virus.
According to the CDC, two doses of the MMR vaccine are 97% effective against measles and 88% effective against mumps, so there is still a remote possibility of infection after vaccination.
And disease symptoms are generally less severe in those who have received the vaccine.
Like condoms, vaccines can't be 100% effective every time but they're 100% more effective than doing nothing at all to protect your health.