Maine May Throw Thousands of Children Out of School Without Ever Meeting With Them

Subject: Our request for a meeting is 1,348 days outstanding
Date: Fri, 1 Feb 2019 18:42:32 -0500
From: Ginger Taylor <ginger@mainevaxchoice.org>
To: Philbrick, Tonya <Tonya.Philbrick@maine.gov>
CC: Wolanski, Lori <Lori.Wolanski@maine.gov>, Bruce Bates <Bruce.Bates@maine.gov>

Ms. Philbrick,

In 2015, after repeated requests, both you and Kenneth Albert, speaking on behalf of the Maine Immunization Program, refused to meet with the leadership of the Maine Coalition for Vaccine Choice, or answer questions we had for the MIP in writing.  Mr. Albert communicated to us that we were not a priority for the program.  Five months later, Mr. Albert convened a meeting at Maine Law to discuss vaccine hesitant parents in Maine, who comprise much of our membership, without inviting us to participate, or even notifying us of the event. https://mainelaw.maine.edu/news/maine-cdc-director-speak-at-maine-law/

Now the members of the Maine Coalition for Vaccine Choice are faced with having their children denied the right to an education if they do to not participate in a program that has acted in bad faith with them and stonewalled them for years.  Further, the program shows questionable competence in its ability to answer basic questions on vaccine laws from members of the public, as evidenced by one of our members being told by one of your staff this week that: “We have no immunization requirements for daycare for children – but there are immunization requirements for those who work at the daycare”.    https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/immunization/family/documents/State-Immunization-Law-for-children-in-Licensed-Childcare.pdf

Best practices in public health always include engaging with the population impacted by the policies that are being driven by any program.  It appears vaccination policy is the ONLY place in public health where shutting out concerned families is not only allowed, but encouraged.  Is it the policy of the Maine Immunization Program to exclude the target population from policy discussion?

It is a vast understatement to say that it is bizarre that the state of Maine would throw thousands of children out of school with out ever speaking to their family representatives, answering their questions, or even holding a public meeting to engage them on their concerns and complaints.  I am very interested in having input on how a situation like that comes to be in a small state like Maine.

Our early discussions with the vaccine removal exemption bill, and the draft language that we have been offered, suggests to us that the legislators involved have no understanding of Federal law or Maine law.

The bill, as announced, will violate The Maine Constitution, The Maine Human Rights Act, The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and is outside of the scope of Jacobson v. Massachusetts, the SCOTUS ruling that allows mandatory vaccine laws in the states.

It is the responsibility of the Maine Immunization Program to be leading these discussion on vaccine policy, with ALL interested parties.  Especially Mainers who have had a bad experience with the program and cannot get relief.

When the community impacted by policy is shut out of policy discussions, it creates an even great expanse in the conflict between the two “sides”. This, of course, is a misnomer as both sides have the same goal: healthy children.  We would like to engage in discussion rather than do damage control with our membership because your program and it’s special interest partners have stonewalled our families for almost four years.

This email is to remind you of our standing request for truly good faith engagement with the Maine Immunization Program.  We will be testifying on at least five different bills in the legislature this spring, and the refusal of your program to engage with our organization will be at the top of the list as to why there should be an expansion of vaccine exemption rights, and drastic safety and public inclusion reform in the Maine Immunization program.
Ginger Taylor, MS
Director
Maine Coalition for Vaccine Choice
207-200-8469

On 5/26/2015 10:28 AM, Philbrick, Tonya wrote:

Ms. Taylor at this time I will be respectfully declining your request for a meeting.

 

Tonya Philbrick, BS, NCMA
Director, Maine Immunization Program
Division of Infectious Disease, Maine CDC
286 Water Street, 9th Floor Key Plaza
Augusta, Maine 04330
Phone 207-287-2541
Fax 207-287-8127
Tonya.Philbrick@maine.gov

 

Subject: RE: VICP link on the DHHS web site
Date: Fri, 5 Jun 2015 11:59:59 +0000
From: Albert, Kenneth <Kenneth.Albert@maine.gov>
To: ‘Ginger Taylor’ <ginger@mainevaxchoice.org>
CC: Wolanski, Lori <Lori.Wolanski@maine.gov>, Philbrick, Tonya <Tonya.Philbrick@maine.gov>, Mayhew, Mary <Mary.Mayhew@maine.gov>, Lusk, Holly E <Holly.E.Lusk@maine.gov>, Martins, John A <John.A.Martins@maine.gov>, Pezzullo, Christopher <Christopher.Pezzullo@maine.gov>

Ms. Taylor – As I wrote before, the issue of vaccinations – and rights associated therewith – is a polarizing matter. The Department’s position has been well articulated in recent legislative debates. Working with federal CDC, the medical community and public health professionals, and perspectives from the public, we continually explore best practices to define our policy. As is often the case, and the nature of governments in general, not all agree with the policy.

Given the many demands on our resources, I am compelled to prioritize. Thank you for sharing your perspective and your inquiries. I will take them under advisement.

Kenneth J. Albert RN, Esq. 

Director and Chief Operating Officer

Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention

           Preserve – Promote – Protect

Department of Health and Human Services
286 Water Street, 8th Floor
11 State House Station
Augusta, ME   04333-0011
Tel:     (207) 287-3266
Fax:    (207) 287-9058
TTY:    Call 711 (Maine Relay)

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