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Natural Awakenings Fairfield Cty/Housatonic Valley, CT

Childhood Vaccinations in Connecticut

An amendment to Connecticut’s religious exemption for vaccination was proposed in the beginning of March and at press time, the HB 6949 bill was under consideration by the Connecticut General Assembly’s Joint Committee of Public Health.

Under the proposed changes, the parents or guardian of a child seeking a religious exemption from a required immunization will be required to have a statement notarized that includes language attesting that the parents or guardian have reviewed and understand evidence-based instructional material provided by the Department of Public Health regarding the risks to such child and to others of such child failing to receive adequate immunizations. If the parent does not agree with the provided material and chooses to not sign the notarized letter of agreement, a religious exemption will not be granted.

Parents or guardians are currently required to only state such immunizations would be contrary to their religious beliefs. Connecticut does not have a philosophical exemption for vaccinations at this time.

This raises questions about what purpose the notarized statement about perceived medical risks serves since it pertains to individual religious beliefs and whether it will potentially be used against parents during later legal proceedings. In addition, there is a legal question about whether the proposed bill conflicts with parents’, guardians’ and their children’s First Amendment rights.

If you want to express your opinion for or against this bill, you can make your views heard in Hartford the following ways:

• Call, send an email, or write a letter or fax to all public health committee members about your concerns. A full list can be found at CGA.CT.gov/PH under Committee Membership.

• Schedule an in-person meeting, call or email your state representative and state senator in case the bill is approved and is sent to the House and/or the Senate.

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