DENVER, CO — The House today passed SB20-163, bipartisan legislation sponsored by Representative Kyle Mullica, D-Northglenn, and Representative Dylan Roberts, D-Avon as well as Senators Julie Gonzales, D-Denver, and Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, on third reading. The bill would boost Colorado’s childhood immunization rates. The bill passed by a vote of 40-24.
“This has been a long and winding process, but knowing that today’s result will save the lives of countless children and protect our state against tragic viral outbreaks makes it all worth it,” said Rep. Mullica, D-Northglenn. “This bill represents an important step towards streamlining our immunization process and boosting our state’s low vaccination rates without removing anyone’s ability to claim an exemption. I’m proud of what we accomplished today.”
“This bill is a simple and sensible way to boost Colorado’s immunization rates and protect our children, all while ensuring that our commitment to parental choice remains intact,” said Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Avon. “This modest proposal will go a long way towards making our vulnerable communities like newborns, seniors and children safer. We’re one step closer to ensuring that all Coloradans are better protected from viral outbreaks.”
“I am proud to see this crucial public health proposal pass the House today,” said Rep. Janet Buckner, D-Aurora. “These modest improvements have been a long time coming, and they’ll go a long way towards protecting the most vulnerable in Colorado, including those in the Black community.”
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.