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Vaccination Exemption Bill Brings Out Thousands For Testimony

John Amis
/
AP

Over 2,000 Connecticut residents signed up to give testimony during a 24-hour public hearing on whether to repeal the state’s religious exemption for school vaccinations.

Unvaccinated students in seventh grade and above will be allowed to opt out of mandatory vaccinations but children in sixth grade and younger will need their shots or will be removed from school. Medical exemptions would continue to be accepted.

Jan White is a resident who opposes the legislation. She claimed requiring vaccinations infringes on the right to a proper education, not just their religious rights.

“People who would want to homeschool are already doing so, so taking away school of choice is not giving a choice, forcing homeschool, forcing families to leave is not a choice parents can make,” White said.

Over 15,000 residents like White have signed a petition in opposition. Proponents said the vaccines are a matter of public health to prevent outbreaks of measles, mumps and rubella.

Democratic State Representative Jack Hennessy of Bridgeport is in opposition.

“The government has no business interfering with the parents right to make medical decisions where there is a possibility of harm, parents have a first amendment right to protect their children,” Hennessy said.

The hearing is based on school vaccinations — and is unrelated to COVID-19.

Clare is a former news fellow with WSHU Public Radio.