Maine Gov. Janet Mills is urging voters to oppose a people's veto referendum in March that could scuttle a new law designed to increase child vaccination rates.
Last year Mills signed a new law that eliminated non-medical exemptions for vaccines required to attend Maine schools. Opponents of the law are trying to leverage public distrust of pharmaceutical companies as a way to overturn it through a people's veto referendum.
In her weekly radio address, Mills used the recent outbreak of a new virus in China as a case for vaccines, and she urged voters not be confused by the people’s veto messaging.
"In trying to target so-called Big Pharma, whom nobody really likes, that campaign is purposely trying to conflate vaccinations with other issues like the opioid epidemic, when these issues are distinctly different," she says.
Mills says the new law came as a response to the fact that Maine ranks seventh in the country for non-medical vaccination opt-out rates.
But supporters of the people's veto campaign say parents should have more choice in determining whether their children are vaccinated. And so far they have outraised backers of the new vaccine law by a margin of 3-to-1.
The referendum will be held on March 3, the same day Democrats will vote in their presidential primary.