Maine has eliminated the option to exempt immunization on religious or philosophical grounds after the state’s opt-out vaccination rates for young children climbed to three times the national average, according to CNN.
The New England state is the fourth in the nation to eliminate non-medical exemption to immunization, after California, West Virginia and Mississippi.
"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," said Democratic Governor Janet Mills, who signed the bill into law on Friday.
The law, which will be enforced after September 2021, follows a resurgence of measles that has resulted in over 880 cases of the disease in 24 states since January. Maine recently recorded the highest rate of whooping cough infection, a cold-like disease that can be easily prevented by vaccination.
Vaccination rates in the state have continued to fall, according to an April report by Maine's Center for Disease Control, and are now below the herd immunity threshold (the level at which disease transmission is unlikely among the unvaccinated).