Connecticut Ends Non-Medical Vaccine Exemptions for Schools, Daycares
Apr 28, 2021
Connecticut has removed all non-medical vaccine exemptions for children in schools and daycares. The state legislature’s vote came after three years of debate and record-breaking hours of public testimony.
Connecticut now joins five other states that only allow medical exemptions to school entry requirements: California, Maine, Mississippi, New York, and West Virginia. All children currently enrolled in kindergarten through high school will, however, keep their non-medical vaccine exemptions.
Vaccinate Your Family’s Executive Director, Amy Pisani, is a long-time resident of Connecticut who worked closely with Vaccination Alliance of CT and CT Citizens for Science to support the legislation.
“COVID-19 has shown our nation and neighbors the devastating effects that disease outbreaks can have on our ability to keep our children safe and in school,” Pisani said. “Children will now be safer thanks to Connecticut’s decision to remove non-medical exemptions – especially those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.”
Most Connecticut Parents Support Vaccine Requirements
While anti-vaccine activists flew in from around the country to protest the bill at the state’s capitol, the overwhelming majority of Connecticut parents actually support vaccination.
In June 2020, VYF conducted an online poll of Connecticut residents which showed nearly 9 in 10 parents in the state believed children should be required to receive vaccines for school entry. Additionally, 87% of adults statewide and across party lines agreed that children should be required to receive recommended vaccines against diseases in order to be enrolled in schools and daycares.
A Record-Breaking Turnout
Over 2,500 people registered to testify in the latest 24 hour-long zoom hearing in the Public Health Committee. Due to lengthy questioning, fewer than 300 had the chance to speak.
Those who supported the bill included several experts in the field of vaccines, members of the American Academy of Pediatrics and CT School Nurses Association.
An Important Step Forward
Between 2009 and the most current data available for the 2019- 2020 school year, the number of non-medical exemptions to vaccinations required for school entry nearly tripled in CT, from 0.8% to 2.3%. Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination rates dropped by 2.3% over the same time period, from 98.5% to 96.2%. In the 2019-2020 school year at least 120 of the 544 schools with 30 or more kindergarten students had MMR vaccination rates below 95%, placing our communities at risk for the rapid spread of entirely preventable diseases. That is nearly a quarter of all schools with at least 30 or more kindergarten students.
On the heels of COVID-19, we cannot afford another outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease such as measles. Non-medical vaccine exemptions have increased in many schools across the state, putting children at risk. Connecticut’s legislators and governor have done the right thing to protect children by removing religious vaccine exemptions.
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