DENVER (CBS4)– A controversial bill over children and vaccines is moving forward at the state Capitol. Colorado always ranks near the bottom when it comes to children receiving the recommended vaccines. This bill aims to change that.
About 20 percent of children living in Colorado are not vaccinated. Colorado is one of 18 states that allows parents to opt out merely because they have objections to vaccines.
It’s easier to get an exemption than to get your child vaccinated.
Sundari Kraft is a self-described organic gardening, healthy-living mom. She’s also a big advocate for vaccines.
“Ultimately measles and pertussis don’t care about organic food. The vaccines are the best way to protect my child,” said Kraft.
Kraft is the founder of “Vaccines for Healthy Schools” and is taking her message to the state Capitol. That’s where Rep. Dan Pabon has introduced legislation designed to improve Colorado’s vaccine rate.
“The idea behind this bill is to close what we call the convenience loophole,” said Pabon, a Democrat representing Denver.
The bill would require parents who choose not to vaccinate to receive information by a doctor or state website about the risks and benefits and to review and resign the waiver at least yearly.
Theresa Wrangham with the National Vaccine Information Center calls the bill discriminatory.
“Our country was founded on the ability to have a personal belief and now we’re going to put something in place where the government gets to be the gatekeeper on how we’re educated,” said Wrangham.
Another controversial provision of the bill requires all licensed schools and day cares to inform parents what percentage of the student body is not vaccinated.
“We’re not taking away anyone’s rights to exercise this option, we’re just saying if you do, we want you to have the necessary information so that you’re making a fully informed decision,” said Pabon.
Kraft said that decision affects every child including those who are vaccinated but are still at risk in an outbreak.
“Getting vaccinated is not like standing behind bullet proof glass, it’s like wearing a bullet proof vest, it protects you but you would rather not be shot at in the first place,” said Kraft.
Colorado’s recent Whooping Cough outbreak prompted this legislation.