HARTFORD -- Political leaders have put a controversial vote on hold until next year. House Majority Leader Matt Ritter announced they will not vote to eliminate the religious exemption for vaccines, at least, not yet.
Ritter told us they had the votes in the house to do it if they wanted to. But they essentially put the onus back on the State Department of Public Health to help build their case.
DPH will have to report back to them by Jan 1st, 2020.
They want DPH to take a position on if the exemption should be eliminated altogether, or strengthened to close loopholes.
They also want DPH to weigh in on what should be done with the current unvaccinated kids, whose immune systems are compromised and can’t be vaccinated because of a medical reason.
And then there’s the issues of those who claim the religious exemption essentially having to be homeschooled if the exemption went away. About 1,250 families claim a religious exemption.
Rep. Vincent Candelora, (R) House Deputy Republican Leader said, “I think the fundamental issue that’s been lost in this conversation is not whether or not somebody should claim a religious exemption to a vaccination but how do we provide a public education which is required under our constitution to individual who will not be admitted into school because they are unvaccinated.”
Rep. Matt Ritter, (D) House Majority Leader said, “We need DPH to be very clear about what they need both statutorily if they need changes. If they need more for outreach and ultimately to make their final recommendation. I believe when they released the school by school data that was there way of saying that we have a real problem in Connecticut.”
The Department of Public Health recently published school and grade level specific data showing 109 schools below a 95% vaccination rate for the MMR vaccine at a time when there are measles outbreaks in 6 states and have been 3 cases so far this year.
House Democrats made it clear that they had the votes to pass a bill eliminating the exemption and don’t see this as a losing ground, but rather regrouping and doing things in a more responsible way.