Committee Passes Bill to Boost Lowest in the Nation Immunization Rates for Children

DENVER, CO — The House Committee on Health and Insurance today passed SB20-163, bipartisan legislation sponsored by Representative Kyle Mullcia, D-Northglenn, and Senators Julie Gonzales, D-Denver, and Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, to boost Colorado’s childhood immunization rates. The vote was 7-4.

“Colorado’s kids are more vulnerable to a massive outbreak of highly infectious disease than children in almost any other state in the country, and that keeps me up at night,” said Rep. Mullica, D-Northglenn. “As a nurse, I know that boosting our immunization rates is the best way to stop preventable diseases like whooping cough and measles from spreading, and nearly 90 percent of Coloradans agree. Today we’re taking steps to protect our children, our communities, and our health care system from diseases that can spread faster and more viciously even than COVID19.”

SB20-163 is designed to get more children fully vaccinated by the time they start kindergarten by encouraging those who do not vaccinate, but who have no objections to vaccinations, to immunize their children. 

The percentage of Colorado kindergartners vaccinated for measles, mumps, and rubella is the lowest rate in the country at 87 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This low rate makes our state particularly vulnerable to a measles outbreak. 

SB20-163 requires parents who choose not to vaccinate their children to present a standardized exemption form signed by an immunization provider or submit a confirmation form that they took a short online class about vaccinations before they send their children to school. The bill also streamlines the immunization exemptions categories by dividing them into medical and nonmedical exemptions, but makes no changes to who can choose to exempt their children or for what reasons. Lastly, SB20-163 would require all immunizing health care providers to use the state’s Colorado Immunization Information System (CIIS) data system, though providers wouldn’t be subject to a regulatory sanction for noncompliance.