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New bill may require all Connecticut students to get vaccinated before going to school next fall

Politics

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Just one week ago, hundreds of vaccination skeptics descended on the Capitol to let state lawmakers returning for the 2020 legislative session know that they oppose the repeal of the religious exemption on vaccines.

The organizers plan an even larger presence next week when a public hearing on the proposal is scheduled. And just a week after the assembly opened, the language of the bill is out and it takes what some are calling the drastic step of banning any child from both public and private schools, that has not been vaccinated unless they have a medical exemption.

Deputy Minority Leader Rep. Vin Candelora (R-North Branford) was part of a working group on the issue but is very unhappy with the language.

“To say that the entire population needs to be removed from the classroom doesn’t, to me, amount to a public health concern, it’s more of a mean-spirited type of bill.”

– Deputy Minority Leader Rep. Vin Candelora (R-North Branford)

Sen. Saud Anwar (D-South Windsor), who is a physician and serves on the Public Health Committee, countered Candelora saying, “It is actually a bill that is moving towards medical-only exemptions.”

Advocates for the repeal of the religious exemptions say that they are just trying to protect children that can’t have vaccinations because of medical conditions.

“That’s actually a serious problem that’s going to threaten our children and the children in the community who are with immuno-compromised status or other challenges may actually get problems and infections.”

– Sen. Saud Anwar (D-South Windsor)

The bill does allow family physicians to make the final call.

Brian Festa of Bristol is co-founder CT Freedom Alliance, one of the four family groups that are opposing the bill and the provision that calls for the state to release town-by-town vaccination rates every year.

Festa filed a lawsuit to stop the release of the rates.

“It doesn’t even allow for a period of sort of ‘catching up’ for the students to make them compliant, not that we would agree to such a compromise, but it doesn’t even allow for that.”

– Brian Festa of Bristol/ Co-founder CT Freedom Alliance

Festa notes that even though New York has already done this, opponents killed a similar proposal in New Jersey. His group intends to do the same here.

That public hearing on this proposal is scheduled for Feb. 19 starting at 10:30 a.m. and is expected to go well into the night.

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