An 8-month-old patient receives a vaccine shot in this AP file photo. Credit: Vernon Bryant | AP

AUGUSTA, Maine — A bill to end Maine’s religious and philosophical exemptions to vaccines is heading to the governor’s desk.

The Senate voted 19-16 Thursday to enact the bill.

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills’ administration has backed the bill ending non-medical vaccine opt-outs by 2021 for schoolchildren, as well as nursery school and health care facility employees.

[Maine House GOP bid to stymie stricter school vaccination rules fails]

The National Conference of State Legislatures says Maine would become the fourth state without religious exemptions.

Maine’s Senate previously supported protecting religious exemptions. But the original bill later passed the House and Senate.

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

[Vaccination rates continue to drop among Maine schoolchildren]

Maine confirmed its first case of measles since 2017 involving a vaccinated child who’s recovered.

Opponents say the bill infringes on parental rights and stigmatizes children.

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