Martin M. Looney

Senate President Pro Tempore

Martin M. Looney

An Advocate for Us

May 16, 2019

Legislative Leaders Request Additional DPH Guidance to Increase Vaccine Rates

No vote is planned for regular session

House and Senate majority leadership today announced that they have asked the state Department of Public Health (DPH) to provide additional data and policy recommendations on how to increase vaccination rates in school districts and schools with high vaccine exemption rates. DPH will report back to the General Assembly by no later than January 1, 2020. No vote on the state’s vaccination policy is expected while awaiting DPH’s legislative recommendations.

“We want DPH to clearly articulate their needs so we can ensure all school children are protected from vaccine-preventable diseases and our vaccine rates increase,” said House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz (D-Berlin).

“This data will help us find solutions that will benefit the public health of children and families across our state,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney (D-New Haven). “Vaccinating your children protects them and others against serious and preventable diseases. We must embrace our responsibility to do what we can to ensure that our schools are healthy learning environments for all children.”

Leaders will ask DPH the following questions:
What statutory authority does the Department need to increase vaccinations rates in schools?

How should the legislature handle unvaccinated children who are currently enrolled in schools to protect children who cannot be vaccinated due to medical conditions such as immune system disorders and/or risk of allergic reactions?

Should the religious exemption be removed from statute or is there an alternative that will similarly increase vaccination rates in under-vaccinated schools?

“Let me be very clear, there was overwhelming support in our Caucus to remove the religious exemption,” House Majority Leader Matt Ritter (D-Hartford) said, “But there were real concerns over what to do for unvaccinated children who are already in school – we need a solution that minimizes upheaval to these children and maximizes the overall public health benefits. Our goal is to ensure Connecticut schools are not put at risk of an outbreak and students are not exposes to dangerous, and preventable, diseases.”

“A lack of vaccinations is causing public health crises across the country,” said Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk). “We don’t want Connecticut to be affected next. We need to take these concerns seriously and seek out solutions that will promote the health and safety of our children.”

Recently, the state Department of Public Health (DPH) released data on the immunization rates for the state’s public and private schools – more than 100 Connecticut schools fall under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommended 95 percent immunization rate for MMR (measles, mumps, rubella). Additional school data is expected to be release in June.