HARTFORD — After months of saying she wouldn’t weigh-in on the issue, State Department of Public Health Commissioner Renee Coleman-Mitchell now said she has enough data to support banning vaccine religious exemptions.
Claiming their trying to prevent a public health crisis before it begins, lawmakers plan to introduce legislation in the next session to remove the religious exemption. They said it’ll be done in the light of day, with opportunity for public comment.
“I am recommending that to protect the health of the public, the religious exemption to vaccination should be repealed,” said Coleman-Mitchell.
And with that, a vocal minority of anti-vaxers descended on the Governors office.
“There is no public health crisis right now,” said Gabrielle Sellari.
Governor Lamont said it’s important to act before there is one.
“I want parents to know that their kids can go to school and feel safe,” he said.
Banning the religious exemption would mean parents who don’t vaccinate wouldn’t be allowed to enroll their kids in public school. Marcella Kurowski of Wallingford said, “Our taxpayer dollars pay for public schooling. Why are my children a threat. They’re not.”
But state leaders disagree. State Sen. Martin Looney, (D) President Pro Tempore said, “There is no valid reason for children not to be vaccinated except for a health related reason.”
Some said it’s too easy to claim a religious exemption. Rep. Matt Ritter, (D) Majority Leader said, “You can literally check a box.”
Gov. Lamont says he will lead the fight.
“I’ll go to every community I can and tell them why I think this is so important,” said Lamont.
While still above the 95 percent herd immunity vaccination threshold, the State Department of Public Health plans to release new immunization data in October that’s expected to show an increase in the number of people who claim the exemption.
Department of Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona said, “The trend is indicating that in a few short year we will likely be below that critical immunity threshold.”
Members of the anti-vaccine claim profits are being placed over people.
“Your body is a temple. To be respected. You are not supposed to induce poisons into the body,” said Kurowski. When asked about her religious reasons, Kurowski said, “It doesn’t matter if I claim an organized religion or not.”
Lawmakers said they would not consider closing loopholes to strengthening the existing exemption saying they don’t want a litmus test for religion.
Maine and New York are the most recent states to be added to a growing list of state’s to ban vaccine religious exemptions.