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.

A state lawmaker is proposing a bill that would make it more difficult for Maine parents to opt out of immunizing their children against measles, pertussis and other common diseases.

Rep. Richard Farnsworth, a Portland Democrat, says the bill would require parents to consult with a primary care professional before opting out on philosophical grounds, and get a signature. 

"I'm sure there will be a lot of people who disagree and that's OK," Farnsworth says, "but we need to take a serious look at this issue to protect the health of the general population."