Governor Lamont Announces Support for Eliminating Vaccination Exemptions for Children Who Attend Public Schools
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today said that Connecticut should join the growing number of states that due to overwhelming public safety risks are requiring children who attend public schools – and are medically capable – to receive vaccinations for preventable diseases, citing recently-released statistics from the Department of Public Health (DPH) showing that over the last year the state has had the largest single year increase in claimed exemptions for vaccinations since the state began tracking the data a decade ago.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), high vaccination rates protect not only vaccinated children, but also those who cannot be vaccinated – a designation referred to as “herd immunity.” Schools that achieve herd immunity reduce the risk of outbreaks of preventable diseases such as measles, tuberculosis, rubella, or whooping cough. Children who cannot safely be vaccinated for certain medical reasons depend on herd immunity for their health and their lives.
“This is an incredibly difficult decision and something that I absolutely have thought long and hard about and consulted on with many medical experts. When it comes to the safety and health of our kids, we need to take an abundance of caution,” Governor Lamont said. “The more children who receive their vaccinations, the safer it is for everyone, especially those who may be at risk to catch serious diseases. I want to make it clear, parents will still have a choice regarding the medical decisions for their children, but if you make the choice not to protect your children against preventable diseases then alternate decisions must be made about where to educate your children. Over the last couple of years, the number of children who are not receiving all of their required vaccinations is steadily increasing, while at the same time we’re seeing significant growth in preventable diseases that our nation hasn’t seen in decades.”
In 2019, the United States has seen the largest increase in the number of measles cases in the last 25 years. According to the CDC, more than 1,241 people in 31 states had contracted measles between January 1 and September 12, 2019, including three cases in Connecticut and more than 1,000 in Brooklyn and Rockland County, New York.
Earlier today, DPH Commissioner Renée D. Coleman-Mitchell delivered a detailed letter to legislative leaders – including Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney, Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz, and House Majority Leader Matthew Ritter – responding to an inquiry on this topic and explaining her recommendation that the Connecticut General Assembly should adopt legislation eliminating the vaccination exemption for school attendance beginning with the 2021-2022 school year.
Other states that recently eliminated vaccination exemptions for similar reasons include Maine, New York, and California. West Virginia and Mississippi do not allow for any exemptions.