HARTFORD -- New legislation could eliminate a religious exemption requiring parents to vaccinate children in order for them to go to public schools.
It's igniting a debate of whether students should be vaccinated.
Measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000. Now, measles outbreaks are happening across the country, including as close to us as New York. A proposed bill in Connecticut would take away the religious exemption that parents can use to avoid vaccinating their children before sending them to school. It's a controversial bill.
"It's important for parents I think to have the initiative to take care of not only their own children, but the fact that these diseases can be spread to other children and families," says Cheshire parent and Orthodontist, David Daniels.
Some anti-vaccination advocates say vaccines can cause serious health problems. One Cheshire parent says her son was diagnosed with autism shortly after getting the MMR vaccine.
"He spiked a really high fever and then all of a sudden all of his words and pointing and eye contact was just gone,' says Cheshire parent Karen Masella-Chartier.
She's asked doctors. They told her there's no proof or evidence that vaccines can cause autism.
"It was just completely gone and he wasn't the same kid anymore," she says. "So that was really tough and scary."
Despite her suspicions, she still opted to vaccinate her second son before sending him to Kindergarten. Most parents that we talked to on and off camera say kids should be vaccinated, but the Connecticut Conservative Caucus says that it's a parental rights issue to require kids to be vaccinated.
"In fact I'd have [the religious exemption] provision expanded," says 90th District State Representative, Craig Fishbein. "Give parents more rights to do what they feel is appropriate for their children... [I]f government guaranteed that they were safe or something like that it would be a totally different situation, but our children are very important to us and its our choice whether or not to go down that path."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says their resources "stress the importance and benefits of childhood vaccines". They also say that Vaccines are one of the top public health achievements from 2001-2010. The CDC says any vaccine can cause side effects, like any medication. Some parents say: do your research before going to vaccinate your child.
"Rather than relying upon what one might read on Facebook, social media, the internet, I would say go right to the source," says Daniels. "Go right to your family's pediatrician or internist."