AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine's Senate has backed an end to the state's religious and philosophical exemptions to vaccines.

The Senate's 18-17 vote Tuesday means the bill faces a round of procedural votes in both chambers before heading to Democratic Gov. Janet Mills' desk.

The governor's administration has backed the bill to ending non-medical vaccine opt-outs by 2021 for schoolchildren, as well as nursery school and health care facility employees.

The Senate previously supported an amendment to protect religious exemptions. But the House recently sent the original bill back to the Senate.

Health officials say Maine's exemptions rates are rising and could eventually endanger children who can't be vaccinated for medical reasons.

Opponents say the bill would infringe on parental rights and stigmatize children who could face removal from school if they remain unvaccinated.

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