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Bill to end COVID-19 vaccine mandates debated in Maine Legislature

Maine lawmakers discussed a bill that would end COVID-19 vaccine mandates by the state.

MAINE, USA — Tracey Dorian Feith is a retired U.S. Army nurse and a healthy mom of five. She has worked in health care for more than 20 years. But after the mother got her first shot of the Moderna vaccine, she said side effects appeared. 

"Within about three or four days, I could tell something was wrong," she said.

Feith said she had shortness of breath, pain and pressure in her chest, and an irregular heartbeat.

"In hindsight, I feel grateful that I'm alive," Feith said.

That's why she decided to testify in a public hearing on Tuesday morning, as the Health and Human Services Committee heard testimony on a bill to stop the mandate of COVID vaccines.

Rep. Tracy Quint, R-Hodgdon, is the bill's sponsor. The lawmaker said she's been hearing from people, particularly concerned parents, from across the state who are fearful there will soon be a vaccine mandate in schools.

"It didn't matter whether they were a Democrat or a Republican, just parents in general, had some concerns whether or not this would be mandated for their children," Quint said.

"I think it, unfortunately, handicaps the public health response to the crisis," Dr. Peter Bridgman, who opposes this bill, said. 

He is a retired neurologist and a cancer patient.

Bridgman added it is "vitally important that people get vaccinated, to protect those around them who may be immunocompromised, and to reach herd immunity."

At an event on Tuesday, Gov. Janet Mills said this isn't the time for lawmakers to be working on vaccine mandate bills.

"This is the time for everybody in leadership positions, everybody in public office, everybody in roles of leadership in their community, to get the word out to make sure people understand how safe and thoroughly tested these vaccines are and how critical they are to keep you out of the hospital, keep you out of the ICU, keep you from dying," Mills said.

According to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, close to 16,000 adverse events were reported by Mainers due to the COVID vaccine. The most commonly reported effects were headache, fatigue, dizziness, pain, nausea, and fever.

The VAERS website states, "VAERS is not designed to determine if a vaccine caused a health problem, but is especially useful for detecting unusual or unexpected patterns of adverse event reporting that might indicate a possible safety problem with a vaccine. This way, VAERS can provide CDC and FDA with valuable information that additional work and evaluation is necessary to further assess a possible safety concern."

Anyone can submit a report to VAERS' website. 

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