Colorado ranks last in kindergarten immunizations
(Apr. 27) – The House gave final approval to Rep. Kyle Mullica’s bipartisan bill to address Colorado’s low vaccination rates. Higher vaccination rates decrease the risk of outbreaks of preventable contagious and deadly diseases.
“We have an obligation to be proactive – not reactive. This is a public health crisis. Waiting for a tragedy to happen is not an option. This is about the safety of our students and experts have been consulted in crafting this important legislation. Colorado ranks last in the country for kindergarten immunizations. We need to do better.” said Rep. Mullica, D-Northglenn. “I urge the Senate to take up and pass this bill.”
Rep. Mullica is a trained trauma nurse by profession.
What HB19-1312 does:
· Creates a standardized exemption form and requires all exemptions be submitted to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) or the local public health agency. Non-medical exemptions must be submitted in person to the CDPHE or local health agency; subsequent renewals can be submitted in person or online.
· Directs CDPHE to include immunization exemption information in its annual presentation to the General Assembly.
· Directs CDPHE to develop educational materials for health agencies and schools addressing the medical benefits of immunizations.
· Gives the Board of Health authority to determine school-required immunizations, based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
This bipartisan bill strengthens Colorado’s vaccination exemption process by incorporating strategies known to increase vaccination rates without removing personal or religious exemptions.
During House debate on the bill earlier this week, Rep. Yadira Caraveo, the legislatures only doctor and the daughter of immigrant parents, refuted a statement from a House Republican alluding that the issue with low vaccination rates is not because parents are opting out of vaccinating their children, but rather that diseases are being spread by individuals who have immigrated to the United States.
Colorado is seeing an increase in vaccine preventable diseases that are endangering public health. According to a recent report, Coloradans paid $55 million on childhood diseases that vaccinations could have prevented in 2017 alone.
Medical experts testified at a House hearing earlier this month in support of this common-sense legislation.
Public health and medical experts have raised serious concerns about Colorado’s low vaccination rate. Contagious disease outbreaks are happening around the country, most recently in Washington and New York states.
According to the CDC, less than 89 percent of kindergarten-aged children in Colorado have received vaccines for diseases like measles, mumps and rubella. Colorado ranks last in country in this category. That’s below the national average of 94.3 percent and below the level of reaching “herd immunity,” the percentage of the population that needs to be vaccinated to avoid a widespread, public outbreak and protect those with compromised or vulnerable immune systems. Herd immunity is essential in protecting vulnerable people, including newborn babies, seniors and people living with ongoing medical issues.
The Senate co-prime sponsors are Sen. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, and Sen. Julie Gonzales, D-Denver.
The bill passed the House Health and Insurance committee hearing by a vote of 7-4 on April 15.
HB19-1312 was approved on a final vote of 39-20. It now heads to the Senate.