State Reps. Matthew Ritter, right, and Liz Linehan are proponents of repealing the state's religious exemption to vaccines. Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Regarding the July 23 article “In quest to repeal vaccine exemption, legislators seek powerful ally,” Jenna Carlesso writes “the state’s new health commissioner is taking extraordinary pains to remain outside the political fray.”  However, when Commissioner Renee Coleman-Mitchell took her position in April, it seems she jumped right into the political fray.  Within weeks of arriving, she released previously inaccessible data at the request of Rep. Josh Elliot. Elliot has been one of the most vocal legislators leading the push to remove the state’s religious exemption.

In 2017, Senate Bill 840 was unsuccessful in allowing public release of school-level immunization data, and the bill died. Past commissioner Raul Pino testified that “To date, DPH has been restricted from sharing school-level information.”  Since state law has not changed, it is still illegal to publicly share this information.

California and New York have both employed dirty politics to push their exemption repeals through, and it looks like our leadership is working from the same playbook. The State of New York is currently facing several lawsuits challenging the legality of its exemption repeal.

The push to release school immunization data was specifically designed to drum up an emergency where none exists, and drive unnecessary fear and bullying in communities.

Democratic leadership is now applying heavy pressure to Commissioner Coleman-Mitchell in the hopes of building a good enough case to make yanking a few thousand healthy children out of school more palatable. Connecticut boasts one of the highest vaccination rates in the country, there have been zero cases of measles in children here, and our rates of all targeted infections are exceedingly low. The commissioner is going to be hard-pressed to find a big enough “threat” to warrant supporting the removal of religious, parental, and educational rights.

Elissa Diamond-Fields practices pediatric chiropractic in Stamford.

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1 Comment

  1. There were 3 cases of measles in adults in CT in 2018, and another 3 in 2019. Infected adults can spread measles to children. The issue is not ‘yanking a few thousand healthy children out of school’, but keeping exposed children who aren’t showing symptoms away from immunocompromised children and adults who cannot have the vaccine for legitimate health reasons.

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