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Senate Majority Leader

Bob Duff

Representing Norwalk & Darien

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Senate Majority Leader Duff, Senator Haskell, Representative Steinberg to Hold Westport Immunization Forum Monday

Today, Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk), State Senator Will Haskell (D-Westport) and State Representative Jonathan Steinberg (D-Westport) announced they will hold a forum to discuss immunization on Monday evening at the Westport Public Library, located at 20 Jesup Road in Westport, from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

This event will see the state officials joined by medical professionals to discuss the topics of immunization and vaccinations in light of recent developments on a state-wide and nation-wide scale. In recent weeks, statistics released by the Department of Public Health showed that vaccination rates for students across Connecticut continue to decline, falling by 0.6 percent from the 2017-18 school year to the 2018-19 school year. Earlier this week, Governor Ned Lamont called for a repeal of the state religious exemption to vaccination. Few religions directly state opposition to immunization.

“This forum will be a great opportunity for the public to hear directly from medical experts and public health professionals about the danger of low immunization rates among children,” said Sen. Duff. “When children are not vaccinated, it jeopardizes their health and safety, as well as the health of others around them. Combating the misinformation on this topic is critical if we are to work towards addressing this issue and this discussion will be a great opportunity to do that.”

“We are holding this forum to communicate directly with the public, address their concerns and emphasize the need to keep our children safe,” said Sen. Haskell. “Preventable diseases returning as rates of immunized children drop is an alarming trend. Addressing this issue in an informational forum with medical professionals on hand will help us address this public health issue with the seriousness it deserves.”

“An appropriate role for government is to promote the Public Health as a matter of safety,” said Rep. Steinberg. “To do so, we must limit those exempted from vaccinations to those who have a legitimate medical reason. Our legislation next session will eliminate religious/philosophical exemptions but establish a clear, science-based path for medical exemptions.”

As immunization rates drop on a national scale, preventable diseases including measles, which officials declared eliminated in the United States twenty years ago, are showing signs of resurgence. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1,241 cases of measles were tracked in the United States, the greatest number seen in nearly 30 years, including three cases in Connecticut.

Additionally, lawmakers are concerned that several Connecticut kindergartens saw immunization rates below 80 percent, the threshold of “herd immunity” intended to protect children who are medically unable to receive vaccines.

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