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Vaccine Bill Hearing In Hartford Draws Hundreds

Sue Haigh
A supporter of vaccinations holds up a sign, while watching a public hearing on vaccine exemption legislation on close circuit television, in an overflow room at the Connecticut Legislative Office Building in Hartford Wednesday.

The Connecticut General Assembly hearing on the proposal to eliminate the religious exemption for childhood vaccines lasted for almost 24 hours this week.

The hearing began at 10:30 on Wednesday morning and wrapped up just after 8:00 am on Thursday.

Hundreds of parents who are skeptical about vaccines packed the hearing room, and the halls of the State Capitol to demand lawmakers keep the exemption in place.

Kirsten Tuskosz, a schoolteacher from Woodbridge, was one of several hundred people opposed to the move. She told lawmakers in the Public Health Committee that getting rid of the religious exemption is discrimination and probably unconstitutional.

“This is extremely un-American. If enacted this legislation will ruin lives.”

Dr. Linda Niccolai, an epidemiologist from the Yale School of Public Health, was one of several experts who urged lawmakers to enact the bill.

“I implore you to remember that you are hearing today from a very vocal minority. But most people if you go back and talk to your constituents, all of them, most people support immunizing their kids and support this legislation.”

Governor Ned Lamont supports the bill. He says a thoughtful vaccination policy is needed considering the infectious viruses threatening our nation and state from overseas.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.
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