July/August 2019 Church & State Magazine - July/August 2019

Maine Law To End Religious Exemption For Vaccines

  Rob Boston

Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) in late May signed a bill that ends a policy of allowing people to opt out of vaccines on religious or philosophical grounds.

“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.

Under the new law, the only exemptions permitted will be medical ones. Lawmakers in Maine took action after an outbreak of measles struck several states. Mills noted that Maine’s vaccination opt-out rate is three times higher than the national average for students entering kindergarten, reported CNN.

In some states, parents who oppose vaccines because they falsely believe they are linked to autism have been citing religious objections to avoid getting their children vaccinated.

Maine isn’t the only state tightening vaccination opt-out requirements. In 2015, California legislators approved a bill that ended personal-belief exemptions for opting out of vaccinations, a policy that covered religion-based objections. Anti-vaccination parents filed a lawsuit demanding the restoration of the exemptions but were unsuccessful.

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