Public health experts in Maine say cases of chickenpox and whooping cough are falling in the state, but the number of children receiving immunizations for the diseases and others is still lower than it should be.

The rate of kindergarten-age children whose parents obtained religious or philosophical exemptions for them was 5.6% in the school year that ended in June. The Portland Press Herald reports that was the same rate as the previous school year.


The Maine Center for Disease Control is launching a series of free immunization clinics for children.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine Legislature is revisiting the state's stricter vaccine law to make some tweaks before it goes into effect next year.

Eric Risberg / AP File

Maine Gov. Janet Mills is urging voters to oppose a people's veto referendum in March that could scuttle a new law designed to increase child vaccination rates.

AUGUSTA, Maine - A group that wants to overturn Maine's law eliminating religious and philosophical exemptions for vaccinations has raised more than three times more money than supporters of the law.

State election officials say a people's veto effort to repeal Maine's new vaccination law has qualified for the ballot, and that the vote that will take place on presidential primary day, March 3, 2020. Mainers for Health and Parental Rights is trying to repeal the law that requires all students attending Maine schools to be vaccinated unless medically exempt.

Mal Leary / Maine Public

The activist group Mainers for Health and Parental Rights has submitted some 78,000 signatures certified by local registrars to suspend the state’s new vaccine law until the voters have their say on the issue next spring. Supporters of the law are vowing a fight to keep it.

Gov. Janet Mills has signed into law a bill that eliminates religious and philosophical exemptions from the state’s vaccination requirements.

Northern Light Maine Coast Hospital in Ellsworth is holding a public forum on vaccines Tuesday evening.

Updated on April 19 at 10 a.m. ET

Washington state has moved a step closer toward making it more difficult for parents to receive exemptions from having their children receive a required immunization.

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Vaccination rates in Maine continue to drop, according to an annual school immunization report released Friday by the state's Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Jae C. Hong / AP Photo

A growing number of parents in Maine are opting against having their school-aged children vaccinated against disease.

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.

Kateryna Kon / AP Photo

The Sanford school department is warning parents that there have been several cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, at the school.

District Superintendent David Theoharides says there have been four confirmed cases at Margaret Chase Smith primary school, and two at Sanford Junior High.

There is a vaccination for pertussis, and it's most common in school-aged kids. Theoharides says in most cases it's not severe for those kids. He says a bigger concern is when they bring it home to younger family members.


Dec 1, 2014

Getting more kids in Maine vaccinated. Learn about programs that reach out to parents and kids to help prevent outbreaks of contagious diseases like whooping cough and measles.

Guests:  Dr. Laura Blaisdell, pediatrician and health services researcher with Maine Medical Center. Her research includes vaccine hesitation and decision making.  [She is also Maine’s site project director for the National Children’s Study]