DENVER (CBS4) — Colorado has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the nation – and it’s again expected to be a hot topic at the Capitol in 2020. It’s expected state lawmakers will take up as many six bills related to vaccinations in the next session. The discussion about those bills is already underway.
Vaccines are one of the most contentious issues at the capitol and the topic often brings out hundreds of people to speak out. Monday is the third summit hosting people on both sides of this issue.
There are several factors people critical of vaccines would like to consider when they advocate for families choosing not to immunize children, but one of the areas they have focused on is the rights of parents.
Activists pushing for vaccinations disagree.
“This isn’t an issue of parental rights. No one has ever asked parents who absolutely refuse to vaccinate their children to vaccinate them. All they’ve ever been asked and all we would want to ask of them is that they expend as much effort not vaccinating their children as I do when I vaccinated my 6 year old and my 9 year old,” Michele Ames, with Colorado Vaccinates.
One speaker concerned about the vaccines recommended to Colorado families pointed to privacy concerns and a lack of consumer protections.
“Vaccines are a private medical decision between and the parent and the health care provider and those are the people that are best suited without any kind of state government interference to go over counter-indications, whether the child is sick acutely or chronically,” said Pam Long with Colorado Health Choice Alliance.
Complicating the debate, there have been outbreaks of pertussis. In Boulder County there were 78 cases, which was up from 58 in a typical year. While pertussis epidemics happen every three to five years, the vaccine, like others, is not 100% protective and wears off over time.
Both sides say they will work with the state lawmakers who will advocate for their concerns and support the legislation needed to see a change or protect the policies in place related to vaccinations.