DENVER (CBS4)– Parents in Colorado who don’t want their children immunized will have to complete paperwork every year as opposed to just once, under new state rules.
The state Board of Health passed the changes Wednesday.
Nearly five percent of parents in Colorado choose not to get all the recommended vaccinations. That percentage is much higher than the nationwide average.
Currently, parents who want their children exempted from vaccinations for non-medical reasons must seek an exemption once before they enroll in school and that exemption remains in effect throughout their time in school.
Starting next year, the new rules require parents to submit exemption forms annually from kindergarten through high school.
Gov. John Hickenlooper says the rules are a step toward strengthening immunization rates and protecting children and communities.
“The goal is to make sure parents get the real information, real facts, that this is not a danger to their children, quite the contrary it’s going to keep their children safer and really keep all the children in our communities safer,” said Hickenlooper.
Hickenlooper said misinformation about vaccines has resulted Colorado with one of the highest opt-out rates in the country.
The new rules also require schools and daycares to report their immunization rates each year. That information will be available to the public.
“Because a minority of parents have chosen not to vaccinate children we’re going to harass them? Is that the kind of society we’re living in? What medical procedure are we going to harass people about in the future?” asked National Vaccine Information Center spokeswoman Theresa Wrangtham.
Anti-vaccine activists believe forced vaccinations are not in the too distant future.
“This is a classic case where it seems kind of misdirected to me for so many people not to allow their children to be vaccinated. Do we have a law requiring every child to be vaccinated? I’m not saying I wouldn’t support it. I would have to think about it,” said Hickenlooper.
Any rules requiring immunizations would have to come from the State Legislature.