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Senate committee advances bill focused on Colorado’s low vaccination rate

Bill will now head to Senate floor
Report: Vaccination rates among Colorado school-aged children remains steady
Posted at 7:43 AM, May 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-02 13:53:31-04

DENVER — A bill focused on school immunization requirements passed out of the Senate Finance Committee early Thursday morning.

The controversial House Bill 19-1312, also known as the School Immunization Requirements bill, will aim to modernize immunization requirements for children going into schools. It would make it harder for parents to opt out of required vaccinations and immunizations for their children.

More than 500 people showed up to give their testimony, and most of them were against the bill.

The motion passed 4-3 Thursday at 1:17 a.m. It will now continue on to the Senate floor.

The bill, which can be read in full here, requires the department of public health and environment to develop a standardized form and submission proves to claim a medical, religion or personal belief exemption from immunizations. Those are common ways Colorado parents have opted out of the vaccines.

It would also require the department of public health and environment to develop educational materials to hand out to healthcare providers and facilities, present exemption information during its annual SMART Act hearing and use the existing immunization tracking system.

This makes it more difficult for parents to get vaccination exemptions for their children, by creating more steps for them. But after the first year, the process would become simplified and parents would just need to fill out an online form.

READ MORE: Colorado bill which tightens loopholes that allow parents to opt out of child vaccinations advances

A Centers for Disease Control report found that Colorado had one of the worst kindergarten vaccination rates — 88% — for diseases like measles, mumps and chicken pox in the country. In the report, CDC said it hopes it get the vaccination rate up to at least 95%.

“Colorado ranks last when it comes to immunization rates for kindergarten-age children, and the current nationwide measles outbreak underscores the urgency of passing this legislation now, “ Sen. Julie Gonzales, D-Denver, said in a press release after the motion passed. “We must act to keep our children and schools safe.”

Gonzales, Sen. Kevin Priola (R-Henderson) and Rep. Kyle Mullica (D-Northglenn) sponsored the bill.

“We have heard from hundreds of doctors, public health officials and parents who are urging us to finish the important work we began this session,” Priola said. “The clock is ticking. Addressing this important public health issue just can’t wait.”