State Asked To Give More Vaccination Data

May 16, 2019

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.

Rep. Liz Linehan, a leading voice in the House of Representatives on the state’s vaccine policy, said the delay provides the opportunity create public health policy that increases the likelihood of herd immunity in all Connecticut schools and protects students.

“My goal is to ensure schools are safe for all children, especially children with compromised immune systems who can’t be safely vaccinated,” said Rep. Linehan. “The numbers show we have pockets of low vaccination rates around the state. Today we hit the ‘pause’ button, because we need DPH to outline their vision for legislation that will turn these numbers around.”

House Majority Leader Matt Ritter is sending a letter to DPH with 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,” Rep. Ritter 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.”

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.