CT governor candidate Bob Stefanowski opposed COVID-19 vaccine mandate


Republican candidate for Connecticut governor Bob Stefanowski said in a release Thursday that he opposes COVID-19 vaccine mandates for state employees and children in school, and has called on current Gov. Ned Lamont to do the same. 

“If I am elected governor, the state of Connecticut will never mandate the COVID vaccine for schoolchildren, public or private employees, or anyone else for that matter,” Stefanowski said in a release. 

In a response, Lamont’s re-election campaign spokesman Jake Lewis said Stefanowski is “continuing his dangerous anti-science rhetoric that relies on misinformation, while courting and pandering to the extreme anti-vaccine movement to save his flailing campaign.”

An advisory committee for the Centers for Disease Control on Thursday voted in favor of recommending the COVID vaccine be added to the immunization schedule for children and adults. The recommendation would now go for a next round of approval that could lead to a formal recommendation – not requirement – that all children and adults get the COVID vaccine. The CDC has not required vaccines for entry into school, although it can be done on a state or local level.

“State laws establish vaccination requirements for school children. These laws often apply not only to children attending public schools but also to those attending private schools and day care facilities,” the CDC says on its website

Inaccurate claims that the vaccine would be required by the CDC have spread across websites and social media this week after Fox News broadcaster Tucker Carlson tweeted that the vaccine would become mandatory for children to attend school.

“The CDC and Gov. Lamont said a lot of things, and then later changed their minds and public health recommendations over the last several years,” Stefanowski spokesperson Sarah Clark said by email Thursday. “Bob Stefanowski is simply making it crystal clear where he stands.”

Though no COVID vaccine mandate for schoolchildren was ever enacted in Connecticut, Lamont said in 2021 that he would consider allowing school districts to make that decision, if they so chose. 

“I’m certainly open to school districts having that authority,” Lamont said then.“ My hunch is the state will have to be working with the superintendents, but we’re not there yet.”

State officials do require some vaccines in order for students to attend school, including those for polio and Hepatitis A, among others.

“Bob and his wife chose to vaccinate their own children against those diseases, and he believes in modern medicine,” Clark said of Stefanowski. “But he also believes those with religious exemptions should have some recourse to make their case.”

Lamont did sign an executive order mandating that required all Connecticut state employees and staff of all childcare facilities and preK-12 schools statewide to receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Those who qualified for exemptions were required to test for COVID-19 weekly. 

That executive order expired in February. In January, though he said he was opposed to COVID vaccine mandates, Stefanowski did acknowledge their value.

“I wouldn’t mandate it but it sounds like we’re in agreement that the vaccine helps,” he said.

In November 2021, the state said that 84 percent of executive branch employees had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with 108 executive branch employees, about 5 percent of the total, either separated from their employment or placed on unpaid leave. 

Stefanowski also said that “It’s time that we start allowing actual science — not political science — to inform how we approach public health decisions.”

“Bob Stefanowski supports research-based, data-supported science, not the politicized opinions of government officials or the constantly varying advice from the CDC,” Clark said by email. 

Lewis, however, said that Lamont’s vaccine policies led to better health outcomes for patients in Connecticut. 

“Working with public health officials, on his watch, Connecticut became one of the nation’s safest states during COVID, leading the country in vaccine rollouts, which enabled Connecticut’s schools and businesses to reopen safely well before the rest of the country,” he said. 


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