New Vaccination Bill May Affect CCSU Students

Samantha Bender, Assistant News Editor

A new bill removing the religious exemption for vaccines will potentially impact Central Connecticut students who claim this immunization. 

According to the pending bill, titled HB-5044 An Act Concerning Immunizations, institutes of higher education with students who had previously claimed that immunization would be contrary to his or her religious beliefs, must receive the immunizations prior to the first day of the fall semester of 2020.

Students must submit the form “prescribed by the Commissioner of Public Health, from a physician or advanced practice registered nurse stating that an immunization against measles, rubella, mumps and varicella has been given to the student,” the section stated. “And that any additional necessary immunizations of the student…are in process under guidelines specified by the Commissioner of Public Health or as recommended for the student by the physician or advanced practice registered nurse.” 

On Feb. 19, a public hearing held at the Connecticut State Legislative Building worked to repeal the state’s religious exemption to vaccination. Despite these efforts, the bill was passed by the Public Health Committee on Feb. 24; it still must pass both the House and the Senate before it can be made into an official law.

The overwhelming majority was opposed to the bill for several reasons, though freedom was among one of the biggest factors.

Among those in attendance at the hearing was CCSU graduate student, Brittany Kilburn, who sat in for 12 hours out of the 21.5 hour duration. This proposed bill raised concern for Kilburn who has openly opposed mandatory vaccinations. In fact, she decided to take matters into her own hands and wrote an email to many Central staff and students pleading for help.

In an email, Kilburn explained the pending controversial legislation and the impact it would have, not only on college students but on all Connecticut students and their school districts.

“This will no doubt cause a decline in incoming enrollment, and, students using the Religious Exemption to vaccination who are currently enrolled, will no longer be able to take on-campus courses to finish their degrees,” Kilburn’s email read.

According to Kilburn, the main purpose of her mass email was to make people aware of the serious consequences that students and their families could face if the bill is passed and to encourage them to preserve the rights of their students and fellow classmates.

Kilburn emphasized the importance of freedom and the bigger issue, not about vaccinations, but about individuals having the ability to raise their children and make medical decisions as they see fit. 

“This bill is a disaster,” Killburn said. “The hardship that will be imposed on Connecticut families will be far reaching and undoable. It will be life altering. Families will fracture, have to quit their jobs, sell their homes, leave friends and family. Children will be isolated from their peers and teachers they love. Other states have experienced children committing suicides after imposing school expulsions.”

As of Feb. 25, the bill was filed with the Legislative Commissioner’s Office.