Connecticut is 6th state to end religious vaccine exemption

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Connecticut will no longer allow religious exemption from childhood immunization requirements for schools and day care facilities, becoming the sixth state to end that policy.

The bill, signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Ned Lamont, came hours after the Democratic-controlled Senate passed the bill late Tuesday night. Over 2,000 opponents had rallied outside the state capitol building, arguing the legislation unfairly infringes on their religious liberties and parental rights.

The other states that have ended religious exemptions for vaccines are California, New York, West Virginia, Mississippi and Maine, according to proponents.

The state’s medical exemption will remain in place. The legislation affects the 2022-23 school year and grandfathers in any students in kindergarten and older with an existing religious exemption.

Proponents argued that eliminating the exemption will help prevent potential outbreaks of illnesses like measles. They cited a slow and steady increase in the number of religious exemptions for childhood vaccinations and declining vaccination rates in some schools.

Critics have said they intend to challenge the law in court.

Susan Haigh, The Associated Press