Maine lawmakers at odds on ending exemptions for vaccines

May 7, 2019

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A bill to end certain exemptions to vaccines is heading back to the Maine Senate as lawmakers disagree on specifics.

A 65-76 House vote Tuesday sent the bill back to the Senate, which moved last week to end philosophical but not religious exemptions.

The House has rejected efforts to protect religious exemptions. Critics say parents would simply shift their out-out from philosophical to religious grounds.

The original bill proposed ending both vaccine opt-outs by 2021 for schoolchildren, as well as nursery school and health care facility employees.

Health officials say Maine’s exemptions rates are rising and could eventually endanger children who can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons.

Opponents say the bill would infringe on parental rights and stigmatize children who could face removal from school if they remain unvaccinated.