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DPH; religious exemptions for vaccination up 25%

Health

(WTNH) — Connecticut has seen a 25% jump over the past two years in religious exemptions from vaccinations for Measles, Mumps and Rubella. That’s the startling news from the latest release of vaccination data from the State Department of Public Health.

Earlier this year, the Department of Public Health released numbers showing some towns with alarmingly high percentages of kids without vaccinations.

Related: Religious exemptions for vaccinations increase while immunization rate decrease for students in Connecticut

This new data shows that statewide, the vaccination rate went down from 96.5% to 95.9% from the the 2017-2018 school year to the 2018-2019 school year and that the number of religious exemptions overall went up
25%.

“I think parents have a right to know and I think it’s about transparency,” says Governor Ned Lamont.

The Governor is talking about why he over-ruled his Public Health Commissioner, ordering the vaccination data released adding, “There were some communities that were ‘yellow flags’ so we want to alert people to what we got to do everyday to keep the public safety.”

Related: Vaccinations your child needs before they start college

He has also ordered the town by town data released as soon as it’s ready, which he says should be within about a week.

State Senate President Pro tem Martin Looney (D-New Haven) today applauded the decision but says today’s number is not helpful adding, “That really, really is irrelevant to parents who are looking to know how things are in the school that they plan to send their child to.”

State Representative Liz Linehan (D-Cheshire), a mother of three and most associated with this issue, agrees that the next data release will be most crucial saying, “We look at it in the school by school data and we find out if the pockets of unvaccinated kids have gotten bigger or if new schools have now fallen beneath that ‘herd immunity‘ line.” (The ‘herd immunity’ line is 95%).

Related: Second case of measles confirmed by Connecticut Dept of Public Health

But not everyone agrees that the vaccination data release is a good idea.
“I think it just creates sort of a potential for political hysteria at a time when we can’t react to it. We should be addressing this issue in February through the legislative process.” – LeeAnn Ducat

The founder of “Informed Choice CT” LeeAnn Ducat says in a text message that “There is no threat. There is no emergency. No reason to bully parents whose stance on this will not change.” Members of this group have gone to court to seek an injunction against the state releasing this information.

Related: Pinterest to direct vaccine-related searches to health orgs

It is expected that an effort to revoke religious exemptions will be again discussed in the General Assembly session that begins in February.

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