HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The Public Health Committee has passed a controversial vaccine bill on Monday that got a lot of attention here in Connecticut.
The bill now moves on to the full House of Representatives.
Last week, more than 400 people testified in support and opposition of the bill HB-5044 for nearly 24 hours straight.
The bill would end the state’s religious exemption for childhood vaccines. It would not force anyone to get vaccinated, just to get vaccinated in order to attend school. So homeschooling is still an option for anyone with deeply held religious beliefs.
The problem is, the number of parents using the religious exemption has risen dramatically in the years since a faulty study came out incorrectly linking childhood vaccines to autism. That study has been proven wrong, but the number of unvaccinated kids in Connecticut schools is getting dangerously low.
“Many members of the Public Health Committee are basing their position on erroneous data from the DPH given to them by their party leaders. Last week, evidence was provided indicating that the same data was incorrect. Voting in favor of House Bill 5044 acknowledges you as a legislator in support of denying children an education,” said Gabrielle Solara, mother, former principal.
“I am here because this is an issue worth fighting for. We need to preserve religious exemptions. We need to protect these children who are going to be thrown out of school,” said Deputy Speaker of the House and State Representative Jack Hennessy.
Anti-vaccination protestors held a rally outside the legislative office building last week as that public hearing was going on.
They chanted things like “ My body, my choice.” Meanwhile, public health experts warn that when less than 95% of students are vaccinated, a school loses the herd immunity that protects the kids who cannot get their shots for medical reasons.
Since the bill passed in the committee, it now moves on in the legislative process.
READ: Public Health Committee agenda for Monday night’s meeting