The Oregon state legislature advanced a bill late last week to encourage more parents to vaccinate their children against infectious disease.

The state has one of the highest rates of parental resistance to childhood immunizations in the country, with 6.4 percent of Oregon kindergarteners exempted this school year for at least one required vaccination, up from 5.8 percent the previous year. The median rate across the country for non-medical exemptions from vaccination shots was 1.2 percent for the past school year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Within some circles in Oregon, opposition to immunizations runs even higher — with some parents even choosing "alternative" treatments for disease prevention, according to media reports.

The state senate on Thursday narrowly approved a bill to compel parents to vaccinate their children, making non-medical exemptions more difficult to win. Democrats voted for the bill 16 to 13, as Republicans touted religious freedom and parental choice.

"I'm getting very tired of this legislative assembly and this body taking away the choices of parents as to how they raise their kids," Sen. Jeff Kruse, a Republican of Roseburg, said.

The senate Republicans proposed an alternative measure that would provide an exemption for "sincerely held religious beliefs," but that idea was shot down. Presently, the bill would allow parents to refuse vaccinations for their children on religious or philosophical grounds, but only after they'd visited a physician or viewed an educational video.

The law presently requires all children at schools public and private to receive shots. Parents may seek exemptions for medical or religious reasons.

"I worry that most people who use the religious exemption currently are doing so because of pseudo-scientific misinformation, and not because of their faith," Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, a Democrat from Beaverton, who also works as a physician, told reporters.

If the law is passed, parents would be required to prove to school officials that they have consulted a doctor or viewed an online education video about the risks and benefits of immunization. That educational material would align with information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Physicians and public health officials say the plan would alleviate a resurgence of preventable diseases such as whooping cough, outbreaks of which have been allowed by the high rate of non-medical exemptions. A similar law passed in Washington state in 2011 cut the rate of religious exemptions for kindergartners by nearly a quarter.