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State Senator

Saud Anwar

Representing East Hartford, Ellington, East Windsor and South Windsor

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Public Health Committee Holds Public Hearing on Potential Repeal of Non-Medical Exemption from Immunizations

HARTFORD – Today, the Public Health Committee held a public hearing for discussion and comments on proposed legislation that would potentially repeal the state's non-medical exemption on immunization.

"This is a conversation we need to have, and one we maybe should have had a long time ago," said Sen. Daugherty Abrams. "When you look at the data and see the exponential growth of non-medical exemptions in our state, it causes one to take pause and wonder if we're doing the best we can for our children, particularly when it comes to their ability to come to school safely. We're all here because we care about kids and want to act in their best interest. I'm very much interested in hearing what the public has to say. "

"We're elected to lead," Sen. Daugherty Abrams said. "We don't want to see the tipping point where we pass the point of no return. We are elected to look at information and make the best judgment for our constituents and the people of Connecticut. That's why we put this bill in to act on it right away, and it's our intent for it to go into effect as quickly as possible. We know that people are understandably anxious about the future of this policy, and we want to address this issue one way or another as quickly as possible so families can have answers about the future of Connecticut's immunization requirements."

"Not a lot of clinicians have had an opportunity to see patients suffering from the illnesses we're talking about. I have volunteered in several third-world countries and seen polio, measles, mumps and rubella, many of these illnesses we are talking about, and I wouldn't wish them upon anyone in the world if I had my way," said Sen. Anwar. "These are associated with, if not death, multiple long-term life-changing issues. Had there not been vaccines, 10,000 more children would die annually, health care costs would skyrocket and cases of illnesses would rise. This is what is at stake. It is very easy to give up responsibility under pressure, but the reality is the policies we're looking at will have long-term impact to save children."

"An Act Concerning Immunizations" will protect public health by ensuring adequate and appropriate vaccinations of children. The bill will do this by eliminating the non-medical exemption for immunizations. Children and patients with medical reasons for not receiving immunizations will be unaffected by the legislation. It requires a child to get required immunizations, such as MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), and any additional ones deemed necessary by a doctor, unless a medical professional determines the child or individual is exempt for medical reasons.

Individuals would need to be immunized or placed on a modified immunization schedule prior to the first day of the 2020-21 school year whether in grade school, higher education or day care.

The language allows for a child previously exempt using a non-medical exemption to assert a medical exemption for immunizations if a medical professional determines such an immunization should not be used.

The bill would also allow for the Department of Public Health to release annual immunization rates for each public and nonpublic school in the state, create a uniform certificate for medical exemptions, and establish an Advisory Committee that would provide guidance regarding exemptions from immunization requirements.

 

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