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Maine Eliminates Religious And Philosophical Exemptions For Vaccinations

Just days after the first confirmed case of measles hit the state of Maine, Gov. Janet Mills has signed a bill that effectively makes vaccinations mandatory by eliminating religious and philosophical exemptions, The Hill reported.

Measles is a highly contagious, yet entirely preventable, disease.

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The virus can be spread through the air by sneezing and coughing. Symptoms may include fever, cough, runny nose, watery eyes and a rash of red spots.

In the 1960s, scientists were able to develop a vaccination for the disease. Prior to this, an estimated 3 million to 4 million people got the disease each year throughout the country.

The vaccination led to an incredible drop in reported measles cases nationwide.

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By the year 2000, when there were only 86 cases, the measles disease was declared to have been eliminated from the United States.

Now, the US is currently experiencing its worst measles outbreak in three decades.

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Federal health officials say that there have been 880 confirmed measles cases in the country this year alone, and that number is only expected to continue to rise.

Officials are attributing the outbreak to anti-vaccination parents.

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They've said these parents who refuse to give their children vaccinations are responsible for the subsequent spread of disease between kids at school.

Maine was the 25th state to have a reported measles cases.

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Now the disease has officially spread to half the country, hitting such other states as Texas, New York, Colorado, and Missouri.

Maine's new bill only allows for doctors and pediatric primary care givers to determine if a child should be exempted from vaccinations.

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The state is now the fourth in the country to have eliminated religious exemptions for vaccinations, joining California, Mississippi, and West Virginia.

Those who opposed the bill argued that it infringes on a parent's right to make medicial or religious choices on behalf of their children.

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“We are pushing religious people out of our great state,” state Sen. Lisa Keim said earlier this month. “And we will also be closing the door on religious people who may consider making Maine their home."

She added, "We are fooling ourselves if we don’t believe an exodus would come about.”

Maine actually has one of the highest rates of non-medical vaccine exemptions in the country.

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The kindergarten vaccination opt-out rate was reported to be at 5.6 percent for the previous school year, more than three times the national average of 1.8 percent.

h/t: The Hill

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