Vaccinations, immigration and controversy

By Dale E. Landrith | Mar 28, 2019

Nick Isgro, the vice chairman of the Maine Republican Party, recently made some comments about vaccinations and the potential of disease spreading from the huge influx of illegal immigrants. The entire politically correct world seems to have reared its ugly head over the comments and nothing short of banishment to Antarctica is deemed necessary. However, maybe one should stop and consider a little bit of the information that is available before overreacting.

The Centers for Disease Control acknowledges that there is a risk of disease spreading across the border. Its website states that, "The large movement of people across the United States and Mexico border has led to an increase in health issues, particularly infectious diseases such as tuberculosis." The CDC specifically cites the possibility of the cross-border movement of "HIV, measles, pertussis, rubella, rabies, hepatitis A, influenza, tuberculosis, shigellosis, syphilis, Mycobacterium bovis infection, brucellosis, and food-borne diseases, such as infections associated with raw cheese and produce."

The Bangor Daily News ran an article on Isgro’s comments and was one of the louder voices chastising him for bringing forth false statements. The BDN article said that, “Isgro’s assertions are false, according to state and federal health officials, who have reported no links between immigrants, their vaccination rates and the return of diseases such as mumps and measles. In fact, 113 countries had higher vaccination rates than the U.S. in 2015, according to the World Health Organization. And U.S. immigration laws require those seeking permanent residence here to become vaccinated for once-eradicated diseases.”

Neglected in this statement is that none of the 113 countries that had higher vaccination rates than the United States are called Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala or Mexico. While those seeking permanent status are required to be vaccinated, illegal immigrants are not vaccinated. Our current U. S. immigration laws do not seem to be terribly effective in preventing the illegal mass migration of people entering the country, let alone making sure that they are vaccinated. It is true that state and federal health officials have not declared any “one-to-one” relationship between increased disease incidence and illegal immigration. However, the study is ongoing and they are trying to determine the reason for an increase in the incidence of measles, mumps, pertussis and tuberculosis in the southern border region.

So of what is Isgro guilty? He is guilty of having an opinion that is different from that of the progressive left. In his first tweet, Isgro stated that, “We need a serious talk… .” It appears that he is asking for discussion. The opposition does not want discussion, since they only want their own voices to be considered. Isgro in a subsequent tweet asked, not demanded, that there be a “pause on migration from countries” that have a problem with these diseases, which is certainly a reasonable position.

The BDN article also has a problem that Isgro sided with a group that does not want mandatory vaccination for all children in Maine. There is presently debate in the Maine Legislature to make mandatory vaccination of all children with the only a medical exemption possible. Currently Maine parents can move to opt out from having their children vaccinated. There does not seem to be any statement by Isgro that is against vaccinating children against communicable disease.

As parents we had our children vaccinated with the recommended vaccines available at the time. To the best of my knowledge, our grandchildren have also been vaccinated. If we had it to do over again, we would certainly vaccinate again. This is, in our view, the safest way to raise children. However, I am adamantly opposed to the government mandating the medical treatment of our children when no imminent threat exists. I believe that this is the position that Isgro was taking.

There should be a message to the spineless Republicans who immediately ran for cover when this controversy emerged: You best pay attention to the position of your constituents and not the progressives. While not scientific, but yet revealing, the radio station WVOM ran an online poll asking whether folks supported mandatory vaccination. The overwhelming response was no.

A few weeks ago there was a large gathering of Republicans in Damariscotta. Isgro was present and answered questions from those in attendance. Damariscotta is in Republican Sen. Dana Dow’s district. I was there, and I do not believe that Dow was. If Isgro can be elected mayor in Waterville, where only 25 percent of the voters are Republicans, other Republicans should be trying to learn something.

Comments (6)
Posted by: Kenneth W Hall | Apr 01, 2019 10:14

Is it "anyone's guess" in a Social Democracy?

Posted by: Barry Douglas Morse | Mar 31, 2019 18:52

An unvaccinated person is put at greatest risk by other unvaccinated individuals, regardless of the person's origins.  An unvaccinated Mainer is also a risk to other unvaccinated Mainers.

The US does not require legal nonimmigrant visitors (tourists and other temporary visitors, who account for most foreigners entering the US) to provide proof of immunization. The "legal" immigrant argument is specious.

The US requires proof of immunization only for those applying for permanent US residence.


Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Mar 30, 2019 09:42

And once again, Dale, you may not realize what you have written.  I clearly wrote that I favor mandatory vaccination but recognize the philosophical question of individual against collective society that follows.  The fact that the unvaccinnated do pose a possible threat to the society as a whole goes unaddressed, by you, and by the non-vaxxers (unlike the horrors of immigrants bringing disease.)


And I admit that the question comes very close to another modern social problem, that of guns which most of the medical establishment considers a major health care problem.  Does the safety of society as a whole justify finally enforcing the "well regulated" part of the second amendment or even mess with the constitution to bring more law enforcement control over firearms?  I find the two problems to be very similar.  Any thoughts?

Posted by: Dale E. Landrith Sr. | Mar 30, 2019 09:27

Once again Ron you only write what you think even if it does not correspond to what was written.  I plainly indicated that my choice was to vaccinate our children and would encourage others to do so.  What I do not support is the state mandating that all parents are required to vaccinate.

Posted by: Dale E. Landrith Sr. | Mar 30, 2019 09:27

Once again Ron you only write what you think even if it does not correspond to what was written.  I plainly indicated that my choice was to vaccinate our children and would encourage others to do so.  What I do not support is the state mandating that all parents are required to vaccinate.

Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Mar 29, 2019 11:26

I have to wonder what kind of mind expresses the fear of spreading disease while at the same time siding with the anti-vaxxer wing of the conservative right?  Really, this is too typical of a political spectrum that has willingly divorced itself from logic, common sense, and factual evidence

You do realize the historical precedent for this spurious argument don't you Dale?  The "disease spreader" slur against minorities has been used throughout history since the Jews were accused of causing the Black Death in Europe in the fourteenth century (and of poisoning wells, too, though that honor now goes to trump and his corporate buddies.)  Throughout the Jim Crow period in this country African-Americans were religated to the basements of hospitals because the KKK had spread the slander that blacks carried Cholera in their blood.  Even the first waves of Irish from that country's famine were accused of bringing vermin with them to this clean, pristine land.  Of course the only true incident of any such thing happening was the introduction of Small Pox by Europeans themselves to the native American population thereby killing millions of them and coincidentally clearing the land for the imminent invasion of white people.

Mandatory vaccination?  Well...

I remember all too well being an elementary school child in the fifties in southern Pennsylvania and the national collective gasp of relief when the polio vaccine was finally perfected.  In my memory I can still see the long lines of children both at my school and in the news as an entire nation rushed to be protected from what had  been every parents nightmare.  Science prevailed again, we thought, and the specter of the iron lung was at long last gone from the land and faded from our consciousness.

OK, I see the dilemma here.  How far can a government go to protect the greater number of the population?  How much can behavior be forced by law into accepting what is believe to be for the common good, despite religious and "philosophical" differences.


In my native area the Amish refused this protection as they refuse most modern advances.  Scripture tells them not to "be conformed to the world" and, like so many sects of narrow interpretation, they will not be.  Years later their enclaves became small pockets of a polio outbreak.  

The major argument against letting parents with "philosophical differences" abstain from vaccination is that by allowing any disease to thrive, even in small groups, the disease has an increased chance to mutate, as every simple life form will, from one that can be prevented by vaccination to one that is too new and therefore unknown.  The anti-vaxxers think they're affecting no one but themselves but nature doesn't work that way.  They may inadvertently  be creating new horrors by allowing nature to take it's course.

So, what's the solution;  forced vaccination?  How about forced isolation?  Is there really any real isolation in this modern world?

It's a thorny question and I know where I stand -mandatory vaccination as a life or death necessity- but where it all may lead, in terms of the rights of the individual vs. the common good- is anyone's guess.

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