February 26, 2020
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Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020: Vaccines and diseases, protecting the right to organize, restoring sovereign rights of Maine tribes

Vaccines and diseases

Oh, measles, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. The heat, the unrest of fever, the bright redness of face and everything else, the eyes, poor eyes, so hot. The bed. The blinds drawn down, strictly, over the windows. A darkened room. Might go blind.

Oh, mumps, how do I love thee? The cheeks and neck full as a chipmunk’s packed with acorns. The unrest, the fever, soreness around the throat. The necessity to stay in bed.

Oh, chickenpox, how do I love thee? Raised blisters on the skin that itch. Do not itch them, the adults said. Itchy blisters everywhere. The malaise, not having the energy to do anything. Blisters turning into scabs. Then the bonus: late in life — shingles!

Oh, polio, how do I love thee? I remember the machines into which people with polio were inserted so they could breathe. Let me count the particular friends who suffered from you. One, after her paralysis, ended up walking, when and if she had the energy, using metal crutches fastened around the wrists. She was a teenager, crippled. Another friend, in his 70s now, deals with post-polio issues. I remember the fear of the polio “epidemic.” The warnings: Don’t go swimming in a municipal swimming pool. Don’t do this, don’t do that. Then, there was a vaccine.

Do the anti-vaccine people really want to subject their children to these diseases, to a time when vaccines were not available? Do you truly want your child to hazard blindness from measles or shingles from chicken pox or disablement from polio?

Mary Louise Dietrich

Brooksville

Protecting the right to organize

On Feb. 6, Rep. Jared Golden joined a majority of congressional representatives in voting to pass HR 2474, the PRO Act. As a union worker, I would like to thank him for acting to enhance and protect the rights of workers to organize. The strength of the American worker is the direct result of the efforts of the working class to better our lives and the lives of those we serve.

As chief steward of Maine State Nurses Association Local No. 982, I can attest that a strong union has given us the ability to advocate for working conditions such as scheduling and patient ratios that advance patient safety here in our hospital as well as allowing us, as members of the National Nurses United, to lend support to our sisters and brothers.

Thank you, Rep. Golden, for your support of working people and our right to organize.

Portia Judson

Bar Harbor

Vote no on Question 1

Pediatricians at Maine Coast Hospital, just like parents, want children to be the healthiest and safest they can be. Voting no on Question 1 — which means supporting the new law that requires vaccinations for children attending school and day care — will protect all children.

The law does not state that children are required to be vaccinated — parents make the decision whether to vaccinate their children or not. The law will, however, protect children attending schools. There are many children who attend school who are not protected against vaccine preventable diseases for reasons such as underlying illness, medications or immune deficiencies which make their immune system weak and unable to receive or benefit from vaccines. These children are at risk when exposed to others who have these infectious diseases.

We want to reassure parents that vaccines are safe. Vaccines prevent disease, but do not cause it. Vaccines work by inducing the body to make antibodies (which work to fight disease in the future) without causing the disease. Some diseases we can treat, but many we cannot. For example, polio cannot be cured once contracted. Bacterial meningitis can be so severe and rapid, we do not have time to treat effectively.

Many countries have yet to provide vaccines to all children, and they continue to have childhood deaths and injury due to diseases that we no longer see here in the U.S. We support voting no on Question 1 — requiring children to be vaccinated when attending school, so as to protect all children.

Sheena Whittaker

Pediatrician, vice president and senior physician executive

Northern Light Maine Coast Hospital

Ellsworth

Maine workers deserve overtime protections

As a longtime small-business owner, I can tell you that the foundation of any successful business is our employees. When they feel valued, our businesses thrive. And if employees work hard and put in extra hours, they should be paid for that time.

That used to be the case back in the day. In the 1970s, more than 60 percent of salaried workers qualified for overtime. However, these days as few as 7 percent of salaried workers are eligible for overtime. To make matters worse, the Trump administration has announced a rollback of Obama-era rules expanding overtime protections that would have helped and denying thousands of Mainers the right to be compensated for their work. It hurts small businesses to have burnt out or resentful employees who are having to work extra hours for zero pay.

That’s why I was heartened to learn about LD 402, which would put Obama’s overtime protections in place for more Maine workers. It helps us return to a Maine where workers can be with their families after a hard day’s work.

David White

Bar Harbor

Restoring sovereign rights of Maine tribes

Maine has a responsibility to pass LD 2094 and restore the sovereign rights of the Wabanaki tribes. For those of us non-native people who read American history and recognize the injustice that our ancestors perpetrated against the native people of this place — including the theft of land, mass murder, systematic sexual violence, removal of children to boarding schools and then placement into “foster care” at disproportionate rates, designed to wipe out the people who were here before us so that we could live freely and happily in a place we felt entitled to call “ours” – we should all be vocally supporting this bill.

That history is continued today in policies that keep Maine tribes from exercising their sovereign rights and stifle their ability to control their own lives and communities. Passing LD 2094 is more than a responsibility, though it is that. It is an opportunity to do the right thing. And when we have an opportunity that we don’t deserve, it is incumbent upon us to do everything we can to take it.

Regina Rooney

Hope


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