Bill would make it harder for parents to opt out of vaccinations for kids

Vaccine photo courtesy: CDC

Vaccine photo courtesy: CDC

DENVER — Colorado moves another step closer to making it more difficult for parents to opt out of vaccinations for their kids.

Lawmakers took up the controversial issue Wednesday afternoon at the State Capitol.

Right now, all parents have to do to opt out is sign one form, one time.

If the bill passes, parents would also need a doctor’s signature that they received information showing the risks and benefits of immunizations—or watch an online video.

It’s an issue compelling dozens to come to the Capitol to talk lawmakers into or out of passing the bill.

Ronnie Prin wheels his 22-year-old disabled son Eric into the Capitol.

He’ll tell lawmakers vaccines left his son totally disabled.

Kathy Sincere says she’ll also tell lawmakers vaccines hurt four of her adult children. Although, her husband, Fran, says they couldn’t prove it in a court of law.

“This is something that can be very scary to me,” says Sundari Kraft, a mother of a two-and-a-half-year-old girl.

She wants to protect her from preventable diseases at her day care center.

She supports House Bill 1288 and so do medical doctors.

“Some people strongly believe vaccines are much more harmful than a benefit. Our job is to look at the evidence, the factual evidence,” says Dr. James Todd, with Children’s Hospital Pediatrics.

He says overwhelming evidence shows vaccines are safe and effective.

He also says injuries that develop after vaccinations are coincidental. He says evidence shows similar rates of autism and brain injuries in children who were vaccinated and those who were not.

The bill would require parents be educated about vaccines before opting out of them for personal reasons.

Supporters say the bill doesn’t eliminate that option. But opponents worry.

“We know it doesn’t take away our right not to vaccinate. We know already that’s not an issue. Should I be forced to be brainwashed every year?” says Fran Sincere.

“This is the first step–the first step to restrict personal exemption. Then, they’ll pass another bill in a year or two, to take away the personal exemption,” says Kathy Sincere. She says then, they’ll take away the religious exemption.

Supporters say it should be at least as difficult to opt out of vaccines as it is to vaccinate.

“Vaccines are not like other decisions. Other medical decisions only affect you and your family. If you choose not to vaccinate, that affects the health of their child, the health of my children, the health of other children in our community,” says Kraft.

The bill will also require schools and day care centers to provide vaccination rates of their children upon request.

The bill already passed the full House and is expected to pass the full Senate.

Unless the governor vetoes it, it will become law July 1.