Mar 4, 2020 - Health

Maine votes against religious vaccine exemptions

In this image, a syringe sits on top of a piece of paper.
The "Tdap" vaccine. Photo: Brianna Soukup/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) praised Super Tuesday voters in the state for also casting their ballots to keep a law eliminating religious and philosophical exemptions that would allow parents to prevent their children from being vaccinated.

Driving the news: Maine's choice to reject vaccine exemptions comes as the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and drugmaker Moderna rush to develop a vaccine to combat the novel coronavirus, and as House Democrats demand guarantees that an eventual vaccine is affordable.

Catch up quick: Maine's law is set to take effect in September 2021, per the Washington Post, and it "aims to boost immunization among school-age children in a state where just over 5 percent of kindergartners are unvaccinated not only for medical reasons but because of their parents' religious or philosophical beliefs."

  • The law would also require unvaccinated children to obtain a waiver from a medical professional in order to attend school, per the Post.

Why it matters: If just over 5% of kindergartners in the state aren't vaccinated, Maine does not meet the "herd immunity" threshold to prevent outbreaks of diseases like measles, which requires at least 95% of a population to be immunized.

Go deeper: Anti-vax movement targets Maine law on vaccine exemptions

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