HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Connecticut has joined a handful of states that have banned the religious exemption for childhood vaccinations. Maine, New York, Mississippi, West Virginia, and California already have legislation in place. Some parents and leaders not happy with the new law here in the Nutmeg State.
Katherine Kraemer-Prokop, the founder of CT Residents Against Medical Mandates, is still reeling from the passing of the bill. “I’m in shock. I don’t think there’s any way to prepare yourself for something like this. ”
Catherine Kraemer-Prokop’s twin toddlers will be ready to enroll in Pre-K in September 2022.
The same year a new law mandating childhood vaccinations to attend school goes into effect.
Medical exemptions will be allowed. Those who currently have a religious exemption are “grandfathered in.”
That included Kraemer-Prokop’s 7-year-old daughter. Her twins, however, are out of luck.
“I spend about $25,000 on my daughter’s education and I’m happy to give that to the state of Rhode Island for private school for my sons. That’s $50,000 a year Connecticut can say goodbye to,” said Kraemer-Prokop.
She was among the 5,000 people at the capitol to rally against the law Wednesday. An 18,000 signature petition was delivered to the governor Wednesday asking him not to sign the bill. But it was too late. He signed it Thursday – no ceremony just a snapshot.
Dr. Aaron Lewis, the pastor at The Family Church in Manchester, says religious freedom is under attack. “Jews, Seventh Day Adventists, Muslims do not consume pork products but of course porcine are in these vaccines.”
Vaccine Angels represents 24,000 families and they say the law protects children who have health issues.
Joel Leyden of Vaccine Angels said, “This is a victory. Whether you choose to vaccinate your child or not, that is your choice. No one is forcing you. At the same time, be considerate of those around you who don’t want to be infected.”
According to the state Department of Public Health, of the 574,000 students enrolled in school;
8,328 have religious exemptions and 1,200 have medical exemptions. An estimated 20,000 are not up-to-date on childhood shots. The new law allows them to catch up with a doctor’s note.
Kraemer-Prokop says that defeats the law’s intent. “I just don’t know how those kids are allowed to stay in school?”
The new law allows those “grandfathered in” who are headed to college in the fall to take their religious exemption with them if they are attending a Connecticut university or college.