Under Colorado law today, all children enrolled in licensed child care and schools (public and private) must be immunized against a series of vaccine-preventable diseases like measles and pertussis. Parents can elect to exempt their children from these requirements for medical, religious, or personal belief reasons. This bill requires schools and child care centers to disclose their immunization and exemption rates, and also directs the Public Health Department to create an online, evidence-based education module about the benefits and risks of vaccines.
Why it’s good for kids: Requiring schools to disclose their immunization and exemption rates will arm parents with good information about choosing the right child care center or school for their child, which is especially important for medically fragile kids who are at higher risk for vaccine preventable diseases.
Why it still needs more work: Currently, a one-time parent signature is the only requirement to elect a personal belief exemption. This bill initially included a provision that would have required parents electing a personal belief exemption to either get a medical provider’s signature or complete an online education module addressing the risks and benefits of vaccines. This requirement would help spread knowledge in our communities and ensure our children don’t get sick from preventable diseases. The hospital and a strong coalition of advocates will continue to work with parents, health experts, educators, and lawmakers to improve Colorado’s vaccine requirements. This is important policy at any time, but it is especially vital now, as Colorado is in the midst of a serious outbreak of pertussis (whooping cough).
I'm excited that by the time the law goes into effect, I will be able to know the vaccination rates of the preschool that LB will attend, but I'm with Children's Hospital on wishing the law went just a little further in requiring parents to have a documented conversation with a medical provider or view scientific information about vaccinations before putting their child (and those that come into contact with their child) at risk of vaccine preventable illness. Maybe next year?