The new laws of Maine have banned the option of opting out of immunization without a doctor’s permission. Everyone who was using religious reasons to opt out of immunization won’t be able to do so any longer. However, the law will not take immediate effect and will be enforced only after September 2021.
Till the time a doctor advises his patient for non-immunization due to some medical grounds, nobody has an option to opt out of it. The philosophical or religious beliefs of people led them to take this action. Maine is among four other states to force this law. This was necessary as the measles cases are rising day by day across the country.
Janet Mills, the Governor of Maine, signed the bill into law on Friday. This would prevent all the people from opting out of it. The children who chose not to be immunized due to non-medical grounds will now require written documents from health professionals based on medical grounds for non-immunization. If they are not able to arrange this before September 2021, then they won’t have any option.
Need for Immunization Laws
It is necessary that the doctors specify in the health documents the hazards of non-immunization. In 2000, the US became successful in eradicating measles, but it returned recently when 940 cases were confirmed across 26 states. The measles immunization can prevent the disease by 97%.
West Virginia, Mississippi, and California already have settled laws for dealing with this matter. Maine Governor Mills recently announced,
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.
The immunization opt-out rate is three times higher in Maine as compared to the national average. It is in the seventh position when it comes to the rate of non-medical exemptions among school children.