AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Lawmakers are considering a bill that would require school health officials to inform parents of children who are not immunized about the benefits and risks of immunization.
A public hearing on the bill was held today before the legislature's Education and Cultural Affairs committee. It would require nurses or other school health officials to sign a document acknowledging that they gave the parents the information.
Superintendents may not permit a child to attend school without a certificate of immunization. There are exceptions granted including for philosophical or religious reasons.
The bill has the support of a woman from Bethel who has a powerful story about the benefits of immunization. Jeri Greenwell's son Jerry died at the age of 23 from meningitis, a disease that can be prevented with a vaccination.
"Every parent is given the awesome responsibility of ensuring the well being of their children and to feel in part that you failed your child because you weren't equipped with the knowledge of something that would have saved his life, that daily haunts you", said Greenwell.
Greenwell says if the bill doesn't pass, she hopes the publicity surrounding it will lead parents to get the information on their own before deciding whether or not to immunize their child.