NY moves to end religious vaccine exemption

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) New York lawmakers have passed a bill that will eliminate a religious exemption to vaccine mandates for schoolchildren in the face of the state's worst measles outbreak in decades.

The Democrat-led Assembly and Senate both approved the measure Thursday.

The bill now goes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has said he supports eliminating the exemption because public health comes first.

Similar exemptions are allowed in 46 states, though lawmakers in several of them are also considering the elimination of the waiver.

Maine nixed its religious exemption earlier this year.

Hundreds of proponents to the bill, including parents of unvaccinated children, protested outside New York's Capitol ahead of Thursday's vote.

They say the bill is an assault on religious freedom.

Supporters say misinformation spread by anti-vaxxers has created a public health crisis.