Bob Stefanowski, the GOP nominee for governor in Connecticut, questioned the effectiveness of vaccinations for children, saying in a newly surfaced video that he doesn't believe parents should be “dumping a lot of drugs into kids for no reason."
The gubernatorial candidate's remarks were reportedly made over the summer speaking at a Tea Party event. NBC Connecticut obtained the video from a Democratic source, and the two-minute clip does not include comments he made before or after a brief discussion with an audience member who asked whether Stefanowski thinks the state should determine immunization laws or if local boards of education should handle the issue.
“I think it depends on the vaccination,” Stefanowski responded. “We shouldn’t be dumping a lot of drugs into kids for no reason.”
Stefanowski said all three of his daughters were vaccinated and described it as “a choice my wife and I made.”
The audience member who asked the initial question pressed Stefanowski about his thoughts on potential legislation.
“A hypothetical bill that I’ve never seen, it’s hard for me to say,” he said. "I don’t think we should be forcing people to inject a ton of chemicals into their kids, but I would want to see more about it.”
Connecticut requires students entering pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and seventh grade to have immunizations for hepatitis, pertussis, tetanus and meningitis before they start classes.
Kendall Marr, Stefanowski’s spokesman, told NBC Connecticut that the candidate’s position is “in line with the law.”
“While he believes that the best practice is to vaccinate your children, he does not believe that the government should be able to legally force you to do so,” Marr said in a statement. “However, 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. Aside from affirming what the current law is, Bob does not advocate for any policy changes in this video.”
Chelsea Clinton responded to Stefanowski’s remarks on Twitter.
“Measles. Whooping Cough. Rotavirus. Polio. Tetanus. Meningitis. The flu. Those are all really good reasons,” she wrote on Tuesday.
Measles. Whooping Cough. Rotavirus. Polio. Tetanus. Meningitis. The flu. Those are all really good reasons. https://t.co/wyLqC5Dk3W— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) October 23, 2018
A poll released Tuesday from Sacred Heart University–Hearst Connecticut found that Stefanowski and his Democratic opponent Ned Lamont are in a statistical tie ahead of next month's election.
Lamont holds a 3.4 percentage point lead over Stefanowski, within the poll’s margin of error.