Maine Bans Vaccine Opt-Out For Religious Or Philosophical Reasons

It's the fourth state to take a stand for vaccines.

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Maine will prohibit people from opting out of vaccines for religious or philosophical reasons, making it the fourth state to ban people from avoiding immunizations.

The bill was signed into law and removes all non-medical exemptions from getting vaccines. It comes as cities like New York are battling a wave of measles in communities where parents are reluctant to vaccinate their children. Governor Janet Mills signed the bill into law.

"As governor, it is my responsibility to protect the health and safety of all Maine people, and it has become clear that our current laws do not adequately protect against the risks posed to Mainers," Mills said in a statement shared with CNN.

More than 880 cases of measles were confirmed in 24 different states between January 1 and May 17 of this year, according to CNN. That's despite the fact measles vaccinations are 97 percent effective when someone elects to take them. In Maine, the state saw its first measles case since 2017 earlier this month. Several counties have also seen an outbreak of whooping cough. Maine's poor vaccination coverage for young children was what spurred the law, according to the Portland Press Herald. 

The law will go into effect in September of 2021. 

"People of good will hold sincere beliefs on both sides of the issue," Mills told CNN. "but Maine has a vaccination opt-out rate that is three times higher than the national average for students entering Kindergarten and the state ranks seventh in the country for the rate of non-medical exemptions taken among school-age children."

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