A controversial immunization bill got a significant amendment Wednesday in a Senate committee, which removed a provision that would have required parents to get information about the pros and cons of vaccinations before they opted out of the shots children need for school enrollment.
House Bill 14-1288 has been the focus of emotional and prolonged committee hearings in both the House and Senate. It has pitted public health advocates against parents who are fearful about the possible side effects of immunizations and believe they should have an absolute right to refuse those shots.
Proof of immunizations is required for enrollment in child care facilities and K-12 schools, but state law allows parents to opt out for medical, religious or “personal belief” reasons. HB 14-1288 originally would have required that parents who wanted to use the personal belief exemption to either be briefed by a health care professional on the pros and cons of immunizations or complete an online education module.
An amendment approved Wednesday by the Senate State Affairs Committee removed that provision. Instead, the bill creates several duties for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, including:
- Creation of a website containing information about the benefits and risk of immunizations
- Issuance of rules on how often child care centers and schools should collect exemption forms
- Working with other state agencies to develop a common policy on immunization data collection
- Providing technical assistance to child care centers and schools on how to analyze immunization data
The amended bill also would require schools to make available on request their immunization and exemption rates.