The debate comes after Gov. Janet Mills issued the COVID vaccine mandate for health care workers last week.
AUGUSTA, Maine — The anger over Maine’s new vaccine mandate for health care workers has spread to the Legislature.
The governor issued the mandate late last week, and Republicans in the Maine Senate announced the next day they will put in legislation to reverse that mandate. That bill could potentially be debated in October.
Now, most of the Republicans in the Maine House of Representatives have signed a letter to Governor Mills, asking her to rescind the order. Among a number of points, the letter states that health care workers or their employers should be the ones to decide on vaccinations.
“The same workers you hailed as heroes will now be required, through government mandate, to cede control over their own choice making to the government or be terminated from their jobs,” the letter states.
House Republican leader Rep. Kathleen Dillingham said she and the other signers of the letter think the mandate needs to go.
“It is government overreach. It isn’t about getting vaccinated or not vaccinated,” Dillingham said, “The issue is the governor stepping in and telling a private employer they have to make their employees get vaccinated.”
She also slammed the process used to declare the mandate.
“It’s something that was done without a public hearing, without public comment. Government shouldn’t work that way.”
The governor’s press office said vaccine mandates for Maine health care workers are not new. A statement from the governor’s press office reads:
“The State of Maine has long required the immunization of employees of designated health care facilities to reduce the risk of exposure to, and possible transmission of, vaccine-preventable diseases. These immunizations include measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, hepatitis B, and influenza. This change simply adds the COVID-19 vaccine and is supported by a broad coalition of health care providers across Maine, including Maine Hospital Association, Maine Medical Association, Maine Primary Care Association, Maine Health Care Association, Maine Emergency Medical Services, and Maine Dental Association, along with the state’s two largest health systems, MaineHealth and Northern Light Health. “
“Further, the Governor believes that every person in Maine who is placed in the care of a health care facility has the right to expect – as do their families – that they will receive high-quality and safe care, which includes having their care providers be fully vaccinated in order to protect them against this deadly virus as much as possible.”
There is also the prospect of another challenge to the vaccine mandate. The religious legal activist group called Liberty Counsel said in a press release Wednesday it has sent a letter to Governor Mills and state health officials, warning them that it will sue if the state refuses to honor requests for religious exemptions to the vaccine mandate.
Read the full letter from Republicans below: