The American Academy of Pediatrics being behind a bill that takes away authority to sign off on the current Connecticut Religious vaccine exemptions from school nurses. Why would you remove the school nurse? And why would doctors be pleased by that? What more needs to be said?
By Jack Kramer
HARTFORD, CT — In 2015, in the midst of a measles outbreak in California, Connecticut’s legislature passed a law requiring parents to present an annual notarized statement of their vaccine exemption to schools and day cares.
That law was only passed after a heated debate of whether government was stepping into an area where it didn’t belong — religion. That’s because most of the non-medical reasons parents give for opting out of vaccines are based on religion. Before 2015, parents only had to submit the form once upon entrance to a school or day care.
The debate is about to repeat itself Thursday when the Children’s Committee holds a public hearing on a new bill that would eliminate a school nurse as one of the people approved to sign off on the forms.
Three dozen letters opposed to the bill have been submitted already.
The bill does not seek to eliminate the current religious exemption, but opponents don’t necessarily believe that.
The bill seeks “to permit ordained, commissioned and licensed members of the clergy to acknowledge parental statements concerning religious objections to vaccinations required for enrollment in public and nonpublic schools under the jurisdiction of local and regional boards of education, and to prohibit school nurses from acknowledging such statements.”
Currently, Connecticut allows attorneys, judges, family support magistrates, town clerks, justices of the peace, and school nurses to sign the forms.
“I have heard from school nurses across the state that parents are coming to them to sign the religious exemption form, to allow their unvaccinated kids to attend school,” Rep. Liz Linehan, D-Cheshire, said.
Linehan co-chairs the Children’s Committee, which proposed the legislation.
“The nurses see that many of these children are partially vaccinated, many times only one vaccination, the MMR [measles, mumps, rubella vaccine] is omitted from the recommended schedule and these nurses have a concern that the religious exemption is being utilized with no actual religious exemption,” Linehan said.
Connecticut does not require any information aside from the form to prove a person qualifies for a religious exemption.
“They (the nurses) essentially feel they are being asked to lie in some circumstances,” Linehan said. “Additionally some nurses also feel acknowledging the religious exemption is not only not in the purview of a nurse, but it is also counter to their medical training.”
Linehan stressed that the bill “does not eliminate the religious exemption.”
“All the other signatories remain except school nurses, and clergy is added for convenience,” she said.
The legislation has the backing of the Connecticut Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which represents nearly 1,000 pediatricians in Connecticut. READ MORE HERE.