June 24, 2024

Supreme Court Denies Challenge of Connecticut School Vaccination Policy

The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to hear a challenge of a ruling upholding a 2021 Connecticut law, which removed a non-medical exemption to school vaccine requirements in an effort to reduce the spread of preventable diseases in classrooms.

The challenge of Connecticut’s vaccine law was one many requests which the Supreme Court denied without comment Monday morning.

The action leaves in place decisions upholding the law by the U.S. District Court of Connecticut and the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which largely affirmed the lower court’s decision.

Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney and Majority Leader Bob Duff reacted to the court’s decision by reaffirming their support for the policy.

“By closing a loophole for non-medical vaccine exemptions, Connecticut embraced a common sense vaccination policy that protects the health and safety of all students,” Looney and Duff said. “This law has now withstood legal scrutiny at every level of our judicial system and its perseverance represents a victory for parents and students, who are less likely to be infected by preventable illnesses.”

In a statement, Attorney General William Tong said the court’s action represented the “end of the line” for a challenge of the state’s lifesaving vaccine requirements.

“We have said all along, and the courts have affirmed– the legislature acted responsibly and well within its authority to protect the health of Connecticut families and to stop the spread of preventable disease,” Tong said.

The legislature voted to close the nonmedical exemption loophole in 2021 following a decline in childhood vaccination rates for illnesses like measles, mumps and rubella amid a growing number of parents requesting non-medical exemptions.

Since the law’s passage, childhood vaccination rates have climbed in Connecticut even as they have continued to decline in many other states. During the 2022-2023 school year, 97.3%  of Connecticut kindergarten students in public schools received MMR vaccines, which was the highest vaccination rate since 2012-2013, according to the Department of Public Health.

Posted by Hugh McQuaid