The Department of Public Health released data that shows more schools are reaching the CDC herd immunity rate of 95% vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella at the same time more students are claiming a religious exemption.
“It’s a bit of a mixed bag. If you just look at it year-over-year, it seems slightly positive in some areas - in kindergarten but slightly worse in others like seventh graders,” Dr. Jody Terranova said.
Terranova, a Hartford pediatrician and vaccine representative for the American Academy of Pediatrics, said they’re concerned about the past 10-year trend where they’ve seen an increase in the number of children claiming the religious exemption.
The state found there were 120 schools below the 95% CDC recommended herd immunity level to prevent the spread of measles.
Terranova said everyone is familiar with coronavirus right now where “one person could infect one to two people with measles, one person infects 9 to 19 people."
"It’s a very contagious disease and we are still very worried about it," she continued.
Two controversial bills, which have caused large protests at the state Capitol, will be up for a public hearing Tuesday. The hearing will start at 9 a.m. and will be limited to 24 hours.
“This is a very difficult issue. It was difficult for New York state. They passed it by referendum in Maine. It’s hard. It’s an emotional thing, but at the end of the day, you have to fall back on science,” House Speaker Matt Ritter said.
Ritter said the data merits a debate on the bills.
“There is a requirement in society that if you’re going to go to school, you can’t put others at risk,” Ritter said.
However, not every lawmaker believes in moving forward with the bills.
“The data was just showing that a lot of children were just non-compliant. They weren’t exercising any exemption and they weren’t handing in their paperwork,” House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora said.
Candelora said the most recent data shows most of these children are vaccinated.
“We are bringing those children who before we didn’t know what their status is. We’re now realizing they are in fact vaccinated,” Candelora said.
Candelora said they need to better understand the data before they deny kids access to a public education.
“We all have sort of this social compact that we have to adhere to or else the consequences can be very dire,” Ritter said.