DENVER — A proposal aimed at increasing the number of Colorado children who are vaccinated against various diseases cleared the full House Monday morning on a bipartisan vote.
House Bill 1288, which passed on a vote of 42-19, would require parents seeking to exempt their children from vaccinations for personal reasons to face education about the risks of not vaccinating their kids.
Supporters argue that the bill is focused on public health and reducing the risk of diseases like whooping cough, while preserving parents’ rights to choose whether they vaccinate their kids.
“It is not only a personal choice,” said Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, the bill’s sponsor. “When some children don’t get these vaccines, it affects the health of other kids too.”
Republicans were more split on the vote.
Rep. Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen, spoke in support of the proposal, telling her colleagues, “I actually believe in science” and urging them to support the measure as a way to protect children.
Others, like Rep. Lori Saine, R-Dacono, and Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland, argued that the proposal goes too far.
“This basically says, ‘parents of Colorado that choose not to get immunization for their kids, you’re too stupid to make this decision on your own’,” DelGrosso said.
Colorado is one of 18 states that allow parents and students to opt out of getting required vaccines if they submit a statement of exemption based on religious or personal beliefs; and its vaccination rate of 71 percent is among the lowest in the country.
The measure would also require school systems and child-care centers to disclose their rates of non-vaccinated children.
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.