Alex Acquisto / BDN

A bill that would eliminate philosophical and religious exemptions for vaccines drew hundreds to the Maine State House Wednesday.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Lawmakers in Maine will consider a bill designed to end non-medical exemptions from childhood vaccinations this year.

Maine health officials say vaccination opt-out rates for the state's kindergarteners increased during the 2017-2018 school year.

According to a report released this week by the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention, 5 percent of kindergarteners were opted out by their parents this year for philosophic of religious reasons. The Portland Herald Press reports Maine's rate last school year was more than twice the national average of 1.8 percent.

The History of Vaccinations

Aug 9, 2017

In order to provide context for the ongoing debate over vaccinations, we learn about how vaccinations came about and how effective they have been over time, around the world and here in Maine.

Guests:  Dr. Laura Blaisdell—health services researcher and pediatrician affiliated with Maine Medical Center

Karie Youngdahl—Director, Public Health Initiatives, Digital Content Strategist, The History of Vaccines, The College of Physicians of Philadelphia

AUGUSTA, Maine - New data from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention show that more children are entering kindergarten without vaccinations for diseases like measles, chicken pox and whooping cough.
The Portland Press Herald reports that the number of parents opting their children out of immunizations for nonmedical reasons rose from 4 percent to 4.8 percent.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine's top health official says he supports legislation that would make it more difficult for parents to opt out of immunizations required to attend school.

Kenneth Albert, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Portland Press Herald  on Tuesday he supports an "informed consent'' bill similar to one Gov. Paul LePage vetoed.

AUGUSTA, Maine - New data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that Maine's rate of vaccination for kids between 19 and 35 months was the highest in the nation in 2014.

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.

By Alanna Durkin, The Associated Press
AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine's highest court says that the state can have a child in its custody vaccinated over the parent's objections.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court this week upheld a lower court ruling that ordered the state's Department of Health and Human Services to approve vaccinations for a 1-year-old against the mother's wishes.

Neither the mother nor the child was identified in the case.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine House has given initial approval to a bill that provides an opt-out provision for parents who would prefer not to have their children receive vaccinations required to attend public schools.

Under the bill, that option would require parents to submit a written statement affirming that consultations with a health care provider on the risks and benefits of immunization had taken place.

Rep. Deborah Sanderson, a Chelsea Republican, opposed a majority committee report recommending the exemption process.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine House overwhelmingly rejected a bill Monday that would have extended the protections of the Maine Human Rights Act to Mainers opposed to vaccinations.

Rep. David Sawicki, an Auburn Republican, told his seat mates that those who choose not to have their children vaccinated should not have to feel like second-class citizens because of their decisions. And he said there is plenty of scientific evidence in medical journals that makes a connection between vaccinations and disorders such as autism.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Public health and school officials concerned about the numbers of Maine parents who are choosing not to have their children vaccinated on philosophical grounds made some headway today in the Health and Human Services Committee.

By Alanna Durkin, The Associated Press
AUGUSTA, Maine - A legislative committee has endorsed a bill that seeks to increase vaccination rates in Maine.

The Health and Human Services Committee voted 9-3 in support of Democratic Rep. Linda Sanborn's bill on Friday. It would require parents to consult with their doctor and get a form signed if they wish to opt out for philosophical reasons.

Patty Wight / MPBN

AUGUSTA, Maine - The question of whether parents should be allowed to exempt their children from vaccinations was before the Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee Monday.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The recent measles outbreak that surfaced at Disneyland in California has fired up the debate over vaccinations, with high-profile politicians like U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie weighing in on whether they should be mandatory.