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Frequently Asked Questions

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what does ld 798 do?

  • LD 798 : An Act to Protect Certain Maine Children and Students from Preventable Diseases by Repealing Certain Exemptions from the Laws Governing Immunization Requirements strengthens the safety of daycares and schools by ensuring that children who attend are up to date on required immunizations.

  • The bill does this by only allowing medical reasons for not immunizing. Philosophical and religious reasons are no longer permitted.

  • LD 798 does NOT mandate immunization for all—only those children who can safely receive vaccines.

why this bill now?

  • Community immunity is necessary to keep certain diseases from appearing and/or spreading.

  • Maine’s immunity rates are dropping low enough that there have been disease outbreaks in our daycares, schools, and colleges.

to whom does ld 798 apply?

  • This bill is designed to protect all of our communities, which includes all public and private elementary and secondary schools, including special education programs.

  • All daycares, preschools, colleges, universities, and healthcare facilities will also be protected.

which vaccines are included?

  • Students will be protected from diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, chicken pox, and meningococcal meningitis.

  • It is important to note that there is no requirement for students to be protected against hepatitis A, hepatitis B, human papilloma virus (HPV), haemophilus influenza B (HiB), rotavirus, tuberculosis (TB), or influenza (flu).

medical exemptions will be protected. what are they?

  • Medical exemptions are determined by patients and their doctors.

  • Generally, medical exemptions include:

  • History of anaphylaxis

  • Known altered immunodeficiency (e.g., cancer or transplant)

  • Severe reactions after vaccines (e.g., encephalopathy)

  • Pregnancy

  • Guillan-Barre syndrome

how many parents are opting out now?

  • 4.5% (1,747/39,0006) of Maine students in kindergarten, first grade, and seventh grades currently reported non-medical exemptions in 2017-2018.

  • Of the 3.53% of Maine kindergartners that are not immunized, only 0.3% did not receive vaccines due to a medical exemption.

why is vaccine hesitancy on the rise?

  • Vaccine hesitancy refers to a delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite availability of vaccine services. Vaccine hesitancy is complex and context-specific, varying across time and place, and by vaccine. It includes factors such as complacency, convenience, and confidence.

  • To learn more about the anti-vaccine movement, read this recent opinion in The New York Times and this comment by the World Health Organization.

  • People who are vaccine hesitant represent less than 5% of Maine’s population.

are vaccines safe?

what are the schooling options for parents who cannot obtain a medical exemption?

  • Parents who choose not to immunize will need to find alternative schooling options for their children.

  • This is necessary so that we can prevent outbreaks like the one happening right now in Washington State. This outbreak of measles has affected more than 50 people, mostly children under the age of ten, and turned into a state of emergency, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in public resources.

what about religious freedom?

Is this constitutional?

  • The constitutionality of immunization as a condition of school entry has been supported in numerous cases.

  • It does not infringe on rights to education—in fact, it reinforces this vital right by protecting schoolchildren from disease and assuring their rightful access to an education.

  • Immunizations have been a part of requirements for school entry for decades.

  • Only 17 states, including Maine, allow for philosophical exemptions from school immunization requirements.