HARTFORD, Conn. — The Public Health Committee passed on Wednesday, strong vaccine policy to eliminate non-medical exemptions in schools.
The lawmakers hosted a hearing over Zoom and later voted 22-10.
According to a release, the exemption has been used in recent years to skirt the vaccine law, causing over 130 schools to fall below the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s threshold of 95% needed for herd immunity against highly contagious diseases like Measles, Pertussis, Tetanus, and Meningitis, among others.
The bills - SB 568/HB 6423 - get rid of Connecticut’s current religious exemptions that parents can claim for required school vaccinations.
They will now move to the full House of Representatives and Senate.
Just a few weeks ago, hundreds of people opposing these bills gathered at the capitol for a peaceful protest to make their voices heard during a legislative session.
Parents in opposition to the bill say that this is another way the government is trying to take their rights away as a parent to make decisions for their child
Proponents of the bill say that this will further protect medically compromised children who cannot be vaccinated.
Most recent data from 2019-2020 shows over 8,00 children across all grade levels claimed religious exemption, which is up from 7,700 in 2018-2019
The bill does not force children to be immunized, but bars unvaccinated children who don’t qualify for medical exemption from enrolling in school. As the bill stands now, it allows children in 7th grade and higher to continue refusing mandatory vaccines, but anyone grade 6 and below would no longer be eligible.
Legislators say there’s a possibility for an amendment in the bill to allow all students currently enrolled to keep claiming the exemption, which means only new children entering school would need to abide by these guidelines.
If the bill succeeds, the exemption would be removed starting September 1, 2022, meaning families could continue claiming it during the 2021-2022 school year.
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