Colorado House Committee Passes Child Immunization Bill
Senate Bill 163, called the School Entry Immunization Bill, has passed out of the House Health and Insurance committee with seven Democrats voting in favor and four Republicans voting against it.
The bill that previously passed by the state senate in February is expected to be debated by the full house later this week.
The goal of the bill, according to Rep. Kyle Mullica, is to increase child immunization rates in the state of Colorado up to 95%. Currently, the state has one of the lowest immunization rates in the country. Mullica went on to describe how they plan to bring those numbers up by streamlining rules and making it much easier to track people who are not vaccinated.
Opponents of the bill, many of who identify as "anti-vax", claim the bill is a step towards allowing the state to administer forced vaccinations. In order to receive religious or personal exemptions, the new bill would require one of two certificates for a child to attend school: a certificate of completion of an online education module about the benefits of immunization, or a certificate signed by a healthcare provider.
According to 9News, the bill will also track and collect data of 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.
When asked about the policy, Mullica said this to Denver 7:
Make no mistake that nobody is being forced to do anything. This preserves the exemptions and a lot of this comes from the stakeholding process.”
Governor Jared Polis supports the bill, saying the order encourages greater education on the topic of immunization, but won’t stop parents who want to opt out.