Lawmakers propose eliminating religious exemptions on vaccines

Posted: Updated:
HARTFORD -

State Democrats are proposing to eliminate the religious exemption on vaccines.

The heated battle is pitting parents' rights against public health. Lawmakers and critics of vaccines were on hand at the state Capitol Wednesday to discuss the issue.

State lawmakers say it's time to put public health first. Currently, to enroll in public school, kids must have certain vaccines unless they have a medical or a religious exemption.

"Do we want to wait until we have deaths and large widespread outbreaks?" asks Rep. Josh Elliott. "Or do we want to solve the problem before it gets to Connecticut?"

There is no legislation currently to eliminate religious exemption. However, lawmakers plan to hold a vote by next year.

 
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Backers of the plan say too many parents are abusing the religious exemption. Last school year, 338 children in Fairfield County claimed it.

Vaccine critics are against lawmakers making the decision for them.

One concerned resident from Easton says he doesn't think the state should be able to mandate a medical procedure since it's a personal decision.

The proposal wouldn't force kids to get vaccinated, but it would prevent unvaccinated children from going to public schools.

Courts have consistently ruled that unvaccinated kids can be kept out of public school even over religious objections. A more conservative Supreme Court could change that.

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