AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine had the highest immunization rate in the nation for children aged 19 to 35 months in 2014. That's according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which released the rates Friday.
The figures show that 84.7 percent of Maine children in that age group received vaccinations last year, an increase of nearly 17 percent over 2013. Nationwide, 71.6 percent of toddlers received vaccinations.
Vaccination rates in Maine against individual types of illnesses varied widely last year. Nearly all toddlers - 97.2 percent - received vaccinations for measles, mumps and rubella, while only 62.1 percent were immunized against hepatitis A. That compares with a nationwide measles vaccination rate of 91.5 percent and a hepatitis A rate of 57.5 percent.
State officials say they're very pleased with the findings. "These results are a cause for celebration and reflect an effective partnership that has been built across the State to address this important health issue," says Maine CDC Director Kenneth Albert in a statement. "Our success can be attributed to the hard work of clinicians, partners, educators and funders who have collectively made the vaccination of Maine’s children a public health priority."
In Maine, parents can opt out of vaccinating their children on religious or philosophic grounds. A bill to tighten the opt-out rules was passed by lawmakers last session but vetoed by Gov. Paul LePage. An effort to override the veto failed.