Letters submitted by BDN readers are verified by BDN Opinion Page staff. Send your letters to letters@bangordailynews.com.

Vaccine priority response

I read with interest the BDN editorial board’s viewpoint regarding vaccine priority for those at-risk people regardless of age. Sadly this group, although initially included in the state’s plan, has been grouped with everyone else.

I personally tried every possibility to acquire a vaccine for my 21-year-old granddaughter battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma awaiting stem cell transplant. I failed initially, but news exposure brought light to the dilemma, and she received an unused end-of-day vaccine.

Usually people with preexisting conditions or health problems that result in immuno compromise are followed by a health care practitioner. These health care practices should be the groups that reach out to these individuals and help them secure appointments and vaccines.

The governor and the Maine Department of Health and Human Services didn’t seem to think it would be easy to verify these people were truly in need of the vaccine due to health conditions, so they didn’t prioritize them. Interestingly, the U.S. CDC recommended high-risk groups receive vaccines during the 1C phase, but states could use their own rules. Maine made its own rules.

Miracles happen, as we can see with vaccine discovery and distribution. Thankfully Northern Light and some of our other large hospital networks had the vision and ability to create an efficient vaccine process that can reach thousands. Hopefully they can continue their success and finish off this last, large adult group.

Dr. James Jarvis has to be our man of the year!

Kathryn Merrithew


Good news for Maine

Here is some good news for our state, from Washington. The American Rescue Plan has lots of job producing items in the works, but for immediate financial aid to help struggling Maine residents and towns, it has already sent stimulus checks of up to $1,400 to almost 90 percent of all adults and children in Maine. Plus, Maine K-12 schools will be getting $424 million of much-needed financial support, a child tax credit will lift 10,000 Maine children out of poverty, and jobless benefits have been extended through September.

From our state government, a bipartisan supplemental budget now ensures 160,000 working-class Maine residents won’t pay state taxes on their jobless benefits and over 28,000 businesses that got Paycheck Protection Program funds won’t pay state taxes on those funds, and a COVID-19 Patient Bill of Rights requires health insurance companies to provide

COVID-19 testing and immunization for free.

Bob Lodato


Time to reopen schools full time

Recently, Sen. Susan Collins pressed the CDC director on the urgency of reopening schools full time for students, citing the fact that CDC guidelines have been slow to keep up with the latest science. As a parent of a child in public school, I am incredibly thankful to have her voice of reason in Washington on this important issue.

Without question, remote learning and hybrid models are leaving Maine’s children behind. Many students are struggling, both socially and academically, and I can tell you firsthand that families are strained to balance irregular school schedules with work responsibilities. Our children need to return to the classroom full time, and they need consistency to thrive. Vaccines are now widely available to our educators, and community spread remains low among school-aged children, so the harm in keeping classrooms at less than half of their normal capacity far outweighs any good.

It is illogical for social distancing policies in public schools to exceed those of other public spaces like restaurants, shops, medical offices, trampoline parks, and all the other places children safely visit on their three remote days and on the weekends. Classrooms are safe.

Collins is working to bring common sense and urgency to this issue, and as a parent I deeply appreciate her continued advocacy. Our children miss their friends, they miss their teachers, and they can’t afford to miss out on their education any longer.

Michelle Philbrook