Anti-Vaxxer Parents Sue To Block Release Of Vaccination Data

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Kristen and Brian Festa, parents of a 7-year-old autistic child who attends Meliora Academy in Meriden, Connecticut, are suing the state Department of Public Health in order to stop the release of a list of the vaccination rates for public and private schools. They are stating that revelation of this list for the 2017-2018 school year led to general harassment online against the school and, by extension, them, even though the list did not show which kids weren't vaccinated. According to that list, Meliora Academy had one of the lowest scores in the state with 18.5% of unvaccinated students due to religious or medical exemptions. Their lawsuit is meant to stop the state from releasing vaccine rates for 2018-2019 school year.

The 2017-18 data “publicly exposed” Meliora Academy “as a school with one of the highest rates of exemption usage,” the Festas wrote in the lawsuit according to The Connecticut Mirror, making its students and parents the “potential targets of harassment.” They pointed to a proliferation of “hateful and vitriolic statements” that appeared on the Internet against unvaccinated students and their parents. The Festas said they had not directly been harassed or threatened, but because their son’s school had one of the highest exemption rates, he and his classmates “may become the targets of hate speech and other harassment.”

As The Connecticut Mirror reports, Kristen Festa testified at a public hearing last month that her son became immunosuppressed as the result of a flu shot, which changed her beliefs about vaccinations. “My religion dictates that it is my primary duty in life to protect my children, specifically, parents have the most grave obligation and the primary right to do all in their power to ensure their children’s physical, social, moral, and religious upbringing,” she said. “After watching my son’s health be stolen from him by the most pointless of vaccines, there is no way I could stand before God and agree to inflict further harm.”

It is not yet sure whether the state Department of Public Health still plans to make public the latest vaccination rates among schools. At the moment the case against the state DPH is still pending and the next hearing, on a motion for continuance, is scheduled for July 15. It would be a huge surprise if the Festas succeed with their lawsuit because they have suffered no specific harm and the state has an excellent reason for releasing that information to the public.

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