Bills to Watch: Preempting Mandatory Covid-19 Vaccines for Kids (LD 59)
LD 59, “An Act to Prohibit Inclusion of the COVID-19 Vaccine in the Universal Childhood Immunization Program,” sponsored by Rep. Joe Underwood (R-Presque Isle), would prohibit the Maine Vaccine Board (MVB) from adding any vaccine for COVID-19 to the state’s Universal Childhood Immunization Program (UCIP)
The Maine Vaccine Board, comprised of nine people, eight of whom are appointed by the governor, periodically reviews recommended vaccines from federal agencies such as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). It also weighs the cost-benefit of whether to include new vaccines in the UCIP, a program which provides vaccines to children by reimbursing the health care providers which administer them.
Maine Vaccine Board members are free from liability for any damage caused by acts or omissions in the course of their duties.
As several jurisdictions around the nation have required COVID-19 vaccines for school children, some worry that Maine may be next.
While Maine state officials have not expressed their desire to add COVID-19 vaccines to the state’s vaccine schedule, statements from Governor Janet Mills and Dr. Nirav Shah, director of Maine CDC, do not inspire confidence from parents worried about that possibility.
Given the most up-to-date data regarding the safety and real world effectiveness of vaccines for COVID-19, especially for youth, concerns from parents and the bill sponsors may be warranted.