Scientists and doctors say the best way to keep your child safe from a host of preventable illnesses is through vaccinations. Yet many parents still hesitate to get them. Now a state lawmaker wants to make it more difficult for parents to opt-out of immunizations for their children.

About 5 percent of Maine children are not immunized, one of the highest rates in the nation. Under a new bill, parents could still opt-out but only after first consulting with a primary care physician.

The bill’s sponsor is state Rep. Dick Farnsworth, D-Portland. He said the bill aims at helping parents make an informed decision on an important public health issue.

“And that’s the whole point of what we’re trying to do is to give them the opportunity to get the information so they can make an appropriate decision on their own. We’re not saying they can’t sign off on philosophical reasons,” Farnsworth said. “It’s just that we want to make sure that people have the appropriate information in order to do that intelligently.”

Right now parents can opt-out of immunizations simply by signing a waiver. The immunization plan is one of hundreds of bills the new Legislature will take up next week.