Colorado’s Health and Insurance Committee passes school immunization requirements

The Colorado House Health and Insurance Committee passed a bill on Monday night that seeks to increase vaccination rates in school-aged Colorado children. HB19-1312 was referred to the Committee of the Whole, as amended, after thirteen hours of testimony Monday night, where nearly 600 Coloradans signed up for public testimony. The vote was party-line 7-4 and the bill is now headed to the House Floor, where it will be discussed on Second Reading.

Should the bill become law, it would require parents who want to exempt their children from vaccines for personal or medical reasons to fill out a form and submit it to their local public health agency, and then to the child’s school. Currently, there is no standardization of the exemption form. If passed, HB19-1312 provides a formalized exemption process. If this exemption form is not properly submitted, the child is not able to attend any school in the state of Colorado.

The bill also requires health care providers to display educational materials that highlight the benefits of immunizations.

During public testimony, many individuals spoke to the importance of parental choice. Several witnesses, however, were concerned about the risk of diseases that occur as a result of a lack of immunization and stressed the stringency of the testing that immunizations are subject to. Opponents of the bill often spoke of the risk of vaccines and the lack of consistent efficacy.   

Representative Kyle Mullica, prime sponsor of the bill, told Colorado’s 9News:

“I want it to be known this bill is about one thing and one thing only. That’s making sure that our students are safe.”

CDPHE currently estimates that nearly 45,000 Colorado students and children in childcare claim a non-medical vaccine exemption annually. Colorado ranks 49th out of 49 states that report their vaccination rates, according to the CDC.

The bill passed out of committee on Monday would require the Department of Public Health to track rates of immunization exemptions and present the data to state lawmakers annually.