DENVER (CBS4) – A state lawmaker wants to make it harder for parents to opt their kids out of vaccines. Rep. Kyle Mullica has introduced a bill aimed at closing what some call the “convenience loophole.”
They say some parents aren’t getting their kids immunized because it’s easier to sign a paper saying they’re opposed to vaccines than it is to get the shots.
Under the bill, they’d have to go to the health department, sign a special form and take it in to the school.
So, many people showed up for the hearing they spilled into the hallway and lines wrapped around the State Capitol. Most of them, like Theresa Wrangham, oppose the bill.
“If it passes and the governor signs it, it’s wholesale discrimination,” she said.
Wrangham — head of the National Vaccine Information Center — says parents who choose not to vaccinate shouldn’t have to jump through a special hoop. It’s hard enough she says.
“Parents who sign exemptions, the deal they make is if there’s an outbreak, their child stays at home. So guess what? They have to line up child care, they have to talk to their employer.”
But Mullica says it shouldn’t be easier to opt out than it is to opt in.
“This bill is about one thing and one thing only — making sure our students are safe,” he said.
He introduced the bill after learning Colorado kindergartners have the lowest vaccination rate in the country.
Lindsay Diamond is among the parents supporting the bill. She founded a nonprofit in Boulder called Community Immunity.
“The decision to vaccinate or not vaccinate a child affects an entire community. So we have to look at the collective good of a community and that is to say your single choice to vaccinate or not isn’t just a personal decision, it affects an entire community,” Diamond said.
The bill also aligns Colorado’s required immunizations with CDC recommendations. That means kids would be required to get the HPV and meningitis vaccine as well as flu shot in order to attend school.
The state keeps a database of people who don’t vaccinate in the event of an outbreak. Parents who fill out the exemption form are automatically entered unless they opt out.
The bill was heard in the House Health and Insurance Committee Monday.