Students react to Bob Stefanowski’s vaccine comments

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FILE – In this Sept. 26, 2018, file photo, Republican businessman Bob Stefanowski speaks to the media after gubernatorial debate at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

University of Connecticut students have expressed a wide range of opinions on a video surfacing online from last summer of gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski (R) saying that individuals shouldn’t be vaccinated for no reason.

Stafanowski later clarified that the choice to vaccinate was not and should not be the government’s decision, according to an article on The Hill.

Christine Savino, a seventh-semester business major, said she understands the idea that citizens should be able to privately choose, but said that notion doesn’t work in reality when it comes to vaccination.

“If a child’s parent(s) do not vaccinate him or her and Stefanowski’s desired policy is enacted, then it will be up to the schools to decide if the child can or cannot attend,” Savino said. “The former circumstance can result in mass disease in educational institutions, and the latter, infringement on the child’s education.”

Savino said it is important for vaccines to be mandatory in order to ensure that all individuals are protected and healthy.

“It is the government’s role to prevent societal quandaries such as these, and thus it should mandate that all children be vaccinated,” Savino said. “With that said, there needs to be aid policies for impoverished families who may not be able to afford such vaccinations.”

However, Hank Anderson, a student studying mechanical engineering, said Stefanowski’s comments on vaccines are reasonable and make sense.

“He [Stefanowski] feels that parents should be able to make a decision on whether to vaccinate thus dealing with whatever repercussions from come from making that choice,” Anderson said. “I am 100 percent pro-vaccine and I think anti-vaccinators are complete morons.”

Anderson said it should not be up to politicians to decide whether or not individuals should be vaccinated, but that failing to vaccinate will still come with consequences.

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“The government should not be making personal decisions,” Anderson said. “If you choose to not vaccinate then you must accept the consequences, such as non-enrollment into public schools and daycares as well as not obtaining jobs in medical facilities.”

Rik Emery, a seventh-semester physiology and neurobiology major, said he was alarmed by Stefanowski’s lack of knowledge on the topic of vaccines in his comments.

“He (Stefanowski) refers to vaccinations as ‘drugs’ and ‘chemicals’ when really, vaccines don’t have anything that the average person would consider a chemical, like saline and what have you, and much less so anything that could be considered a drug,” Emery said. “This shows that he is not well-educated on the matter, otherwise he wouldn’t refer to vaccines in these ways and he wouldn’t comment in the way he did on ‘forced vaccinations.’”

Emery said it is concerning that the idea of vaccines becoming optional is possibly part of Stefanowski’s agenda.

“We’ve seen occurrences of measles, polio and other illnesses that we thought had been curbed by mass vaccination, yet here we are,” Emery said. “I’m not saying that Stefanowski is planning to undo the common sense laws we have in place requiring vaccination, but now that thought is on the table and that worries me.”

Kendall Marr, Stefanowski’s spokesperson, told NBC Connecticut Stefanowski’s comments are still consistent with the law.

“Not vaccinating your children does mean you will likely not be able to enroll your children in public schools or daycares, so as not to put others at risk,” Marr said. “Aside from affirming what the current law is, Bob does not advocate for any policy changes in this video.”


Taylor Harton is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at taylor.harton@uconn.edu.

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