Protesters respond to recently updated vaccination exemption rates

New London

Protesters gathered outside the Attorney General‘s office in Hartford just hours before the updated school vaccination exemption list was released by the state Department of Public Health.

Recently CT Attorney General William Tong said there are no constitutional barriers to eliminating the religious exemption if lawmakers want to mandate immunization for school age kids.

“We’re here today protesting an unconstitutional law of the state to try to take our religious freedoms,” said Shannon Gamach of Ashford. “So I have this sign that says religious freedoms are civil freedoms. Religious rights are civil rights.”

The data from 1,300 public and private schools in Connecticut looks at exemption rates for medical and religious reasons as well as a total exemption rate.

“I think it raises awareness about where your children are and you know what your children are exposed to potentially,” said Sue Dub, a nurse with the Uncas Health District. 

On the list released earlier on Friday, four schools with among the highest total exemptions were updated.

  • Redding Elementary School is now at 8 percent, much less than the 41.8 percent reported last week.
  • Prospect Elementary is now 3.3 percent down from 25.6 percent.
  • Haddam Elementary’s exemption rate dropped to 3.7 percent
  • Milford Christian Academy doesn’t have to report data because it has fewer than 30 students. 
  • Wildwood Christian School in Norwich had among the highest exemption rates in New London County, all of them for religious reasons. The total exemption rate at the private school is 12 percent. 

Related: Dept. of Public Health releases updated list of immunization rates by school

News 8 did speak to someone in the school and was told the nurse is not working today and the person declined to have anyone make any comment.

“My message is make sure the information that you’re getting is reliable,” said Dubb. “That it’s evidence based.”

Dubb says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a 95 percent vaccination rate to boost the so-called herd immunity.

“The higher the numbers the better the protection especially for those who cannot be immunized for medical reasons,” said Dubb.

An informational hearing on the state’s religious exemption from vaccinations for school children will be held Monday at 9:30 a.m. at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. 

Click here for the full list 

For more details on the survey, click here. 

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