A new bill introduced in the Colorado House of Representatives would require all unvaccinated children to be reported to state officials, sparking a heated debate on the rights of parents to refuse to immunize their children.
H.B. 1164, which was sponsored by state Rep. Dan Pabon, passed committee by a vote of 7-6 after a hearing at the state Capitol on Feb. 25. The law would mandate that parents who wish to be exempted from vaccinating their kids submit an exemption request to the Colorado Department of Health and Environment rather than to each individual school.
“What this bill is not about is requiring more students to get vaccinations,” Pabon said, according to KLFY. “It’s about who will keep charge of the records.”
The bill was introduced partly in an attempt to improve the records system in Colorado, where many schools don’t adequately record immunization information for their students. Although Colorado passed a bill two years ago requiring schools to report vaccination rates, 1 in 5 Colorado kindergartners had no immunization information on record for the 2014-15 school year, according to KLFY.
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Several parents who opposed the bill did so out of a concern for privacy, including Christine Carter, who has four children and has vaccinated all of them.
“I have the freedom to report what I’m going to do with my children or not,” Carter told KLFY. “I don’t think it’s the government’s business.”
In a general sense, the bill was largely seen as factoring into the debate over vaccination in Colorado, which is one of 20 states that allows parents to oppose immunization for any sort of personal reasons. Colorado had the nation’s lowest rates of MMR -- measles, mumps and rubella -- vaccination in 2015, according to The Denver Post.