NLH officials react to Maine DHHS’ proposal to remove COVID-19 vaccine requirement for health care workers

Published: Jul. 12, 2023 at 4:33 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 12, 2023 at 4:41 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - The Maine Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday it will propose the removal of the COVID-19 vaccine from the list of required immunizations for workers in health care facilities.

The department says it filed the proposed rule change with the Secretary of State based on available clinical data about COVID-19.

Despite having the oldest population, Maine is among the states with the fewest COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 residents.

Maine is also ranked one of the lowest for COVID-19 deaths.

We spoke with Dr. James Jarvis of Northern Light Health Wednesday who says they do support this decision, as it does follow the science.

However, he says it remains to be seen whether this will be an opportunity for some healthcare workers to return to work.

”We do think this will affect the future healthcare workforce going forward, but what we have done since the beginning of the pandemic is follow the science and the evidence and do things in looking out for the best interest of our patients, our staff, and the communities that we serve,” says Dr. Jarvis.

The Department of Public Safety’s Maine Bureau of Emergency Medical Services will present information to the Board of Emergency Medical Services at their meeting next month.

The Department says it will partner with Maine health care providers to encourage voluntary vaccination of health care workers and residents.

DHHS expects the rule to be published next Wednesday and to adopt the rule following public comment by the end of the year.