Governor to Seek End of Religious Exemptions for Vaccines

Gov. Ned Lamont is recommending that Connecticut join a growing number of states in eliminating the religious exemption to childhood vaccinations. 

The Democrat and state Health Commissioner Renee Coleman-Mitchell on Monday proposed the General Assembly do away with the exemption by the start of the 2021-22 school year. 

The decision follows the recent release of state Health Department statistics showing the percentage of Connecticut kindergarteners who were vaccinated against measles and mumps dropped from 96.5% in the 2017-18 school year to 95.9% in the 2018-19 school year. 

Lamont and Coleman-Mitchell were joined by leaders of the legislature's Democratic majority, who called the repeal a public-safety issue during the nation's worst measles outbreak in decades. 

“I know there are many who sincerely believe that the religious exemption should not be repealed and vaccine rates by schools should not be published. I sympathize, but must follow the science that has been proven for more than 50 years and has saved millions of lives in our country,” Coleman-Mitchell said. 

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1905 that states have the right to enforce compulsory vaccination laws. 

NBC Connecticut has reached out to groups that oppose repealing the exemption, but did not immediately hear back. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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