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Immunization bill passes Colorado Senate, headed to House

The bill would require either an online module or health care provider signature for a child to attend school without immunization.

COLORADO, USA — A bill designed to address Colorado’s low immunization rates was passed by the Senate on Friday and now moves to the House for consideration. 

>> The video above is from last year's attempt at the bill

Senate Bill 163, or the School Entry Immunization bill, requires that those seeking immunization exemption for religious or personal beliefs would need to provide one of two certificates for a child to attend school.

Under this bill, the options to submit a certificate for nonmedical immunization exemption include:

  • Certificate of completion of an online education module about the benefits and risks of immunization 
  • A certificate signed by a health care provider 

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A health care professional would be required to submit the information into an immunization tracking system. However, there would be a notice that informs parents and guardians of an option to exclude immunization exemption information for the immunization tracking system, the bill's language says.

Data collected for the immunization tracking system would include the student's name, date of birth, sex, school’s name and location, immunization information, vaccines for which the exemption applies, and the parent or guardian’s name.

Currently, a parent who wants to exempt their child from getting vaccinated can do that by writing down their wishes and turning it into their school administrative staff.

>> You can read more about the immunization data tracking system and confidentiality at the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment website.

The bill would also create a “vaccine-protected children standard,” that sets a goal for every school to have a 95% immunized student population. In addition to this goal, the bill would require every school to publish its immunization rate and exemption rate on an annually distributed document to parents, legal guardians, and students.

The proposed legislation requires the Department of Public Health and Environment to annually evaluate the state’s immunization best practices and guidelines recommended by the advisory committee on immunization practices.

Amendments to the bill passed Thursday say immunization records are confidential, and prohibit disclosure, subpoena, or admission into evidence.

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Opponents fought for home-schooled children to be fully exempt from vaccinations, but bill co-sponsors argue that if these students participate in functions in their school districts, they should follow those district guidelines.

“We’re building this airplane as we fly and there’s a little turbulence in the back of the plane,” said Sen. Paul Lundeen, R-Monument. Lundeen had replaced Larry Crowder, R-Alamosa, on the Health and Human Services Committee.

He argued in support of one of the major concerns of parents who testified last Wednesday: that their personal information would be compromised if they put their names into the state database.  

Most lawmakers praised Thursday’s process, saying the controversial bill is now better than it was because the language had been cleaned up, but others are still firmly opposed to to it. 

Colorado sits at the bottom of the country for kindergarteners vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella. Public health officials are concerned that this creates regions that would be susceptible for a measles outbreak.

>> Colorado Politics contributed to this story, read their full coverage here


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