LD### proposes making immunization a condition for public school entry by removing “philosophical reasons” and “religious belief” as allowable exceptions (called “exceptions” in our current laws) to school-required vaccines from both Maine State Statute and DHHS/DOE Joint Rule. This bill would retain currently defined medical exemptions.
The constitutionality of immunization as a condition of school entry has been supported in numerous cases. Specifically, this legislation does not infringe on rights to education—in fact, it reinforces the right to education by protecting school children from disease, which is a precondition to receiving the education to which they are entitled.
Evidence from other states shows that immunization requirements for school entry have been instrumental in achieving high immunization coverage rates and ensuring community immunity against infectious disease outbreaks.
The removal of philosophical belief and religious exemptions for school-required immunizations will:
Ensure a safe learning environment for all children, including those who cannot receive immunizations and those who are at risk for severe side effects from vaccine-preventable diseases.
Result in fewer missed school days from preventable outbreaks.
Allow school administrators, school boards, and nurses to adequately protect their students from preventable disease.