Currently in Connecticut, you can get an exemption for your child from getting vaccinated on medical or religious grounds.
The recent uptick in cases of measles has some lawmakers saying that should be changed.
This new proposal would eliminate religious grounds because of the recent uptick in measles around the country, a disease thought to have been eliminated nearly two decades ago.
Dozens of moms, many with small children, packed the second floor at the State Capitol and said the legislature is preparing to attack their freedom of religion.
LeeAnn Ducat of Woodstock said, “Our First Amendment right is under attack, so whether people, I know it’s a very contentious topic, no matter how anybody feels about this contentious topic, the point is that state power stops at my skin.”
Rev. Ernestine Holloway of Reguse Council of Churches added, “They’re taking away our civil liberties
to decide if our children should or should not have a shot.”
What they’re talking about is a new proposal to eliminate the religious exemption that allows parents to keep their kids from receiving vaccinations.
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Rep. Matt Ritter (D-Hartford), the House Majority Leader, said, “Kids with compromised immune systems that can’t get vaccinated have to go to school and they have no idea which kids have been vaccinated or not. That’s why California did it. That’s why Mississippi did it. That’s why West Virginia did it.”
According to the Connecticut Department of Public Health, about 765 kindergartners and nearly 500 seventh graders applied for exemptions from vaccinations on religious grounds last year.
Since the beginning of this year nearly 160 cases of measles have been reported in ten states, including two in New Haven County.
The House Deputy Majority Leader contends that many exemptions are philosophical and not based on religious grounds.
Some of the parents on Wednesday said their kids had bad reactions to some shots like Melissa Sullivan of Suffield, “With vaccines, unfortunately, if your child is hurt or injured, or God forbid, dies, you can’t even sue the pharmaceutical company for that vaccine.”
Ducat, who is the founder of InformedChoiceUSA.org, added, “You’re not going to override my individual freedom based on something that is highly contended and there’s a lot of independent data out there to refute.”
The House Deputy Minority Leader, Rep. Vin Candelora (R-North Branford), said, “To suggest that we’re going to eliminate an exemption without public input is very disconcerting to me.”
Rep. Candelora said the fear is this will be attached to some other bill, and since the Legislative Public Hearings on proposals are wrapping up this week, there’s no time to hear public and medical testimony from both sides.