Connecticut parents or guardians wishing to exempt their children from vaccinations based on religious reasons may be deterred by a bill that cleared the Senate Tuesday.
The bill, which passed 21-15, requires parents or guardians to present a notarized statement that an immunization would be contrary to the religious beliefs of their child. However, language in the bill allows the notary to be waived by the Commissioner of Public Health at the request of a parent or guardian.
Under the new legislation, such statements are subjected to annual submission and must be officially endorsed by a notary public, attorney, judge, family support magistrate, court clerk, deputy clerk, or justice of the peace.
This is an amendment to previous legislation, which did not obligate a notary.
The bill also mandates the statement include an assertion that parents or guardians requesting an exemption have reviewed and understood “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.”
“We are modifying this because of the alarming increase across the country, and certainly in the state, of those who are taking this exemption,” said Sen. Terry Gerratana, D-New Britain.
Gerratana also said that the number of people invoking this exemption has increased by 300 percent in Connecticut.
Current state policy requires that children be vaccinated appropriately before they enter the public or non-public school system. Standing exemptions include medical conditions and religious-based beliefs.
The only states without a religious exemption for vaccinations are West Virginia and Mississippi.