Was the DPH Commissioner strong armed into supporting a draconian push to create an unnecessary solution to an imaginary problem?
On Monday September 16, 2019, Governor Ned Lamont and DPH Commissioner Renee Coleman-Mitchell held a press conference to announce their support for the removal of Connecticut’s long-standing religious exemption to school immunization requirements. Recently, Coleman-Mitchell was quoted as saying, “I am not able, nor should I weigh in on anything that’s public legislation that comes about as a result of any of the work we do. That’s not in the purview of my role.” A month before, in a prepared statement to the CT Mirror, she stated, “In Connecticut, we have only had three measles cases so far in 2019 and the last case was in April. Given that we have not had any further measles cases since April and because the immunization rate for the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines in Connecticut remains above 95 percent statewide, we will not be releasing immunization rates by school for the 2018-2019 school year at this time.”
Though she was subsequently overruled by the governor to release this data, this clearly shows she was not concerned about a public health crisis, because one does not exist. Health Choice CT asks Coleman-Mitchell and Governor Lamont how CT went from the Commissioner seeing no need to release data, to the state demanding the removal of healthy kids from school by eliminating the religious exemption from vaccines.
The alleged 25% increase in religious exemption rates has not been verified, and while it sounds like a lot, 25% of a very small number is still a very small number. CT boasts one of the highest vaccination rates in the country and has for the past several years. The unnecessary and illegal release of school level data was a political move to create a non-existent crisis. To so flippantly strip children’s rights to attend school due to their religious beliefs is appalling, and the idea that healthy kids pose a threat to others is wildly misguided. Unvaccinated children cannot spread an illness they do not have. Are the medically unvaccinated an equal risk? Or does the threat only arise when a child is exempt for religious reasons? And what about the adults in our school who are not up to date on their vaccines?
In fact, several live vaccines are known to potentially shed from those who have recently received them, and others (DTaP) are known to prevent only symptoms, leaving the recipient contagious, putting those around them at risk. The state is not asking the recently vaccinated children to remain at home for a period of time despite the fact that they are the largest threat to the immunocompromised children around them.
We stand with the Connecticut General Assembly Conservative Caucus and would like to reiterate what they stated in their press release dated September 17, 2019, "Not only is the Governor advocating a policy which lacks any legal foundation, his position has no foundation in public health. By calling to repeal the religious exemption, the Governor is again substituting his own politics for sound public health policy and the rule of law. We believe the Governor is abusing his authority in order to advance a political agenda which has absolutely nothing to do with public health."
This is not just the removal of religious and educational rights, it is the removal of the right to informed consent. It is coercion to force liability free pharmaceutical products, and it is absolutely discrimination. We are calling on all legislators and citizens to stand up against this unnecessary and misguided political play.
Health Choice CT (HCCT) is a grassroots non-profit organization with members throughout the state. We are a community who believes people have a fundamental right to make informed health decisions for themselves and their families. As such, we protect families’ rights to informed health choices. We also protect our religious freedoms.
Since 2015, Health Choice CT has opposed numerous bills aimed at restricting the right to informed consent and privacy as well as expanding state mandates.
Local Media Contact: Gabrielle Sellari, Health Choice CT Email: firstname.lastname@example.org