In a grainy video recorded over the summer at a campaign event, Bob Stefanowski, the Republican candidate for governor, shared some of his thoughts on childhood immunization laws.
NBC Connecticut obtained the video of Stefanowski from a source working for Democratic campaigns in Connecticut. The video is two minutes long, and it is unknown what is said before or after the two-minute portion on immunization policy.
Stefanowski was asked by an audience member at the event, which appears to have been hosted by the Quiet Corner Tea Party, about the state mandating certain immunizations in order for students to attend public school.
The member of the audience, who is off camera and cannot be identified, asked, “Do you think the state should dictate [immunizations] or should local [Boards of Education] handle that?”
Stefanowski responded by saying, “I think it depends on the vaccination. We shouldn’t be dumping a lot of drugs into kids for no reason.”
Connecticut mandates that students receive certain vaccinations at different points in their education. When students are entering pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and seventh grade, immunizations for ailments like hepatitis, pertussis, tetanus, and meningitis must be completed before the students start classes.
There other requirements for different schools and programs. For instance, a flu shot is required for children in daycare facilities and at youth camps, and state colleges require certain immunizations for students planning to live in on-campus housing.
Stefanowski told the group that he and his wife had all of three of their daughters vaccinated, which he described as, “a choice my wife and I made.”
The candidate would not commit to any kind of legislation that would change current state immunization policy when he was pressed by the person asking questions about his position.
“I’d want to see it,” Stefanowski told the room. “I’m really not dodging your question. A hypothetical bill that I’ve never seen, it’s hard for me to say.”
Then Stefanowski said, “I would look at it. I don’t think we should be forcing people to inject a ton of chemicals into their kids but I would want to see more about it.”
When reached for comment, Monday, his spokesman Kendall Marr told NBC Connecticut in a statement:
“Bob's position here is in line with the law. While he believes that the best practice is to vaccinate your children, he does not believe that the government should be able to legally force you to do so.”
He added, “However, not vaccinating your children does mean you will likely not be able to enroll your children in public schools or daycares, so as not to put others at risk. Aside from affirming what the current law is, Bob does not advocate for any policy changes in this video. ”
Jerold Duquette, an associate professor of Political Science at Central Connecticut State University, said the existence of the video will not lead to any meaningful conversations about vaccination policy among the candidates running for governor.
"This reinforces the difference between someone who believes in vaccines and someone who doesn't,” he said. “You can't develop an issue in two weeks and that's not the point of using an October surprise. You're not trying to develop an issue. You're just trying to reinforce an existing cleavage.”