A model of integrity



Dear Editor:

Principled integrity is sometimes hard to find in today’s governmental proceedings, and I want to thank our state Sen. Louie Luchini for exhibiting that integrity in his votes on the LD 798 vaccine mandate bill.

 

Legislators swear to uphold the U.S. Constitution, which is exactly what Louie Luchini did in this case. While he firmly stated his belief in the importance of vaccines, he explicitly honored the First Amendment’s rejection of government interference in religion, despite the regrettable position of his party’s leadership in opposing him. For this, he deserves our sincere respect, perhaps admiration, rather than the inappropriate characterization of naïveté he received in The American’s May 16 “Render unto Caesar” editorial.

 

The title of the editorial epitomizes the problem with the vaccine situation. It omits the rest of the saying: “…that which is Caesar’s; render to God that which is God’s.”

 

What exactly is “Caesar’s”? The role of government in vaccines stems from the famous 1905 Jacobson vs. Massachusetts case, in which a man was fined for refusing to submit to smallpox vaccination. Key to that case was that a smallpox epidemic was raging and killing a lot of people. In the absence of that kind of dire emergency, Caesar has no claim. A person’s constitutionally protected religious beliefs do.

 

The other side of the issue is the vaccines themselves. Dick Broom is to be thanked for his May 23 Mount Desert Islander article pointing out that “high” vaccine exemption rates in small schools are meaningless. What is left out of the discussion is that the whole idea that a 95 percent vaccination rate is essential for creating “herd immunity” is scientifically indefensible.

 

We fight over a few percentage points around 95 percent when, as the editor of the prestigious journal Vaccine has observed, the current measles vaccine is incapable of producing herd immunity at any level, except perhaps 100 percent, if even that.

 

The concept of “herd immunity” was developed in the 1930s, involving levels of 55 percent and 68 percent of people with true natural lifetime measles immunity in Boston and Baltimore. It had nothing to do with modern mathematical models divorced from the reality of a vaccine with serious primary and secondary vaccine failures.

 

Even more scientifically indefensible is applying this 95 percent requirement to all vaccines, when those vaccines and their diseases all vary widely in their effectiveness and infection profile.

 

Back in 1967, public health doctors described measles as of “only moderate severity. Its complications are infrequent, and, with adequate medical care, fatality is rare.” Today is no different. We are not in a 1905 smallpox epidemic. People are not dropping like flies. They are recovering, with lifetime immunity. In this situation, Caesar has no prior claim over religion.

 

Thank you, Louie Luchini.

 

Dick Atlee

Southwest Harbor

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