HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Thousands descended on the Capitol Wednesday to speak to lawmakers as they debate the repeal of the religious exemptions for childhood vaccinations. Most gathered were there to protest the repeal, but medical professionals and public health advocates were also there, demanding the exemption be ended to keep all kids safe.
It’s very likely the children of the thousands of people that came to the State Capitol Wednesday to oppose ending the religious exemption are likely enrolled in the more than 130 Connecticut schools where the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination rate falls below the federally recommended guideline of 95%.
Dr. Linda Niccolai, Professor of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases and Director of the Connecticut Emerging Disease Program at the Yale School of Public Health, explained Wednesday that those 130 schools – about 20% of schools in the state – are vulnerable to the measles epidemic due to parents choosing not to vaccinate their kids.
A pediatric emergency physician from Yale-New Haven, Dr. Carl Baum, added that those who are not fully vaccinated could be in grave danger.
“Diagnoses and treatment can be immensely more complicated when these children present because viruses and bacteria are much more likely to cause disease, even death, in these children.”– Dr. Carl Baum, pediatric emergency physician from Yale-New Haven
The co-chairman of the legislature’s Public Health Committee, Rep. Jonathan Steinberg (D-Westport) told News 8, “Our goal is to empower practitioners, medical professionals, with expertise and experience to making those difficult decisions as to who is eligible for a medical exemption.”
Governor Lamont said Wednesday that he was aware of the large crowd that came out for the hearing, but that because public health is his top priority, he will continue to advocate for the bill’s passage.
“I understand the concern of some of the parents and distrust of government. I’m working closely with the Trump administration to make sure we’re very clear about what vaccinations should be required.”– Governor Ned Lamont (D-CT)