Gov. Lamont overrules official, wants more vaccine data released
HARTFORD — Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont on Wednesday overruled his public health commissioner, saying school-by-school vaccination rates should be publicly released.
Max Reiss, the governor’s spokesman, said the Democrat “finds this information important” and believes “the public has the right to know,” including state legislators, who’ve discussed possibly ending a religious exemption from vaccines.
Reiss’ comments came a day after Department of Public Health Commissioner Renee Coleman Mitchell said she only planned to release county-by-county immunization data and not school-by-school vaccination rates, noting there have been no new measles cases in Connecticut since April.
DPH is expected this week to release the latest statewide vaccination data, including how many students have sought the religious exemption. Reiss said county-by-county data will be released in October and school-by-school numbers sometime afterward, once it’s been verified for accuracy.
House Majority Leader Matt Ritter, a Democrat from Hartford who has voiced concern about the growing number of vaccine exemptions sought on religious grounds, said it’s important for lawmakers to have the school-by-school data to identify pockets of unvaccinated students. He said county-by-county or statewide data gives people the “false impression” there are no issues with vaccinations. While Connecticut has high statewide vaccination rates, school-by-school information released earlier this year showed more than 100 schools with rates that fell below recommended federal guidelines.
A Woodstock couple has sued DPH to stop the agency from publicly releasing additional immunization rate information at private and public schools, arguing their unvaccinated son suffered “mental and emotional distress” after the data released in May showed 18.5% of students at his private school in Meriden claimed the religious exemption.