HB 19-1312

Opinion: Colorado vaccination bill would have set a dangerous and discriminatory precedent


Past Legislation

In 2016, Colorado legislation included two bills with vaccine issues that CHCA opposed or amended. HB-1164 and SB-146 are summarized here.

CO HB 16-1164 was a bill attempting to change the current vaccine exemption process between the parent and school to a new process from the parent to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). This bill aimed to create a new online process for submitting vaccine exemptions to a new state database with new CDPHE forms. This new database was proposed to be an opt-out system, with all people who elect to opt-out being tracked in a secondary database. This bill did not become law. CHCA opposed this bill for many reasons:

  • Most parents do not want to submit their private medical decisions with CDPHE or the unknown entities that this proposed state database would give access to their Personally Identifying Information (PII). Parents trust their children’s private medical information and vaccine records with local schools, as it has been since 1979, on paper files.
  • Under HB-1164, parents would lose their FERPA protections at the schools, which requires written consent from parents prior to any sharing of information from school records, including medical records. CDPHE aimed to circumvent FERPA, take authority over schools’ vaccine exemption records, which would then fall under HIPAA, and allow sharing of information with providers and institutions without parental consent.
  • Medical databases contain highly sensitive information targeted by hackers.
  • IIS databases like the Colorado Immunization Information System (CIIS) cost millions of dollars a year and research shows they yield no public health benefit. IIS databases do not decrease “Vaccine Preventable Diseases” nor do they save the theoretical treatment costs associated with diseases that were never contracted. IIS systems are designed to coerce individual’s compliance with the now 70 dose US vaccine schedule by implementing reminders, recalls, and home visits. IIS databases also maintain a secondary function as a taxpayer-funded inventory and re-order system for vaccine providers. The federal government’s strategic goal within the CDC is to create a federal IIS by 2020, tracking all people’s vaccine status, from birth to death, accessible anywhere in real time. In 2016, the US Adult Immunization Schedule will roll out to the public. CHCA seeks to restrict any enhancements of CIIS for its potential for harassment and discrimination of both children and adults. CHCA supports making CIIS an opt-in system, because most people are currently unaware that their child’s information was added to CIIS at the creation of a Colorado birth certificate, and parents have the right to opt-out.
  • CDPHE has a longstanding conflict of interest with Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition (CCIC), according to the Colorado 2016 state audit of CPDHE. CCIC’s mission does not support lawful vaccine exemptions. CCIC lobbies that every child should be fully immunized. The Colorado Coalition for Vaccine Choice believes that parents are the best qualified to weigh the risks and benefits of each vaccine, after reading about ingredients, contraindications, adverse reactions, safety trial outcomes, relative disease risk, and effectiveness data. The contractual partnership between CDPHE and CCIC, along with CDPHE rule changes in 2016 to increase vaccine exemption submission frequency, and controversial HB-1164 demonstrate that CDPHE is hostile to parents who execute lawful vaccine exemptions. CDPHE and its subordinate Vaccine Advisory Committee of Colorado (VACC) continue to exclude stakeholders like the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) who support informed consent of the full risks of vaccination, and CDPHE also excludes parents who utilize vaccine exemptions and/or have a child with a vaccine injury.
  • The draft non-medical vaccine exemption forms that CDPHE created ahead of HB-1164 contained compelled speech. Parents cannot be required to sign a document that forces them to agree with a statement that they are putting their child at risk or other people’s children at risk by exempting from one or more vaccines. CDPHE drafted this unacceptable language (“may endanger my child’s health or life and others who come into contact with my child”) in direct violation of informed consent rights of parents to make voluntary, medical risk taking decisions without sanction.
  • Sponsors of HB-1164 claimed that it would take the “burden” of vaccine record collection off the schools. However, schools would still be collecting vaccine records for the majority of students who choose to fully vaccinate. HB-1164 was a highly discriminatory bill aimed at creating a state registry of a minority group who utilize a vaccine exemption(s). CHCA believes that maintaining medical privacy is not a burden. Sponsors also claimed that the new online database was a convenient “service” for the public. CHCA believes that any mandatory state database that does not have a true opt-out is a tool for tracking and harassment. This bill died in the House when it was amended to make it an opt-in system.

Despite HB-1164 not becoming law, parents continue to receive letters falsely telling them they have to submit their medical, religious or personal belief exemption directly to CDPHE online to be included in the CIIS by July 1, 2016. While CDPHE has changed their website’s wording of the information about submitting exemption forms online from “shall” to “should” and now “may,” many schools are still sending out this inaccurate information. According to Colorado Law, C.R.S. 25-4-903 parents are required to submit their exemptions to the school, not CDPHE.

On May 4, 2016 Senator Lundberg and the Senate Health and Human Services Committee held a deposition with Dr. Wolk, Executive Director of CDPHE regarding immunization exemption forms. The committee found that CDPHE is acting beyond its legislative authority regarding vaccine exemptions and is seeking guidance on how to resolve this issue and restore the public trust. Furthermore, on May 11, 2016, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) asked the Adjutant General’s office to write a letter to schools to clarify this misinformation from CDPHE.

CO SB 16-146 was a bill expanding treatment of minors for sexually transmitted diseases without parental consent to allow minors to consent to “preventive measures” for sexually transmitted infections, including vaccines for sexually transmitted diseases without parental knowledge or consent. CHCA supported an amendment which successfully removed preventative services from this bill for two main reasons:

  • Minors are NOT capable of consenting to vaccination, as they do not know their own medical history or their potential risk factors for adverse reaction.
  • Parents need to be aware if their children have received a vaccination, in case the child has an adverse reaction. Parents assume 100% of the risk.

During 2016, CHCA also supported an amendment to the state budget to defund CIIS because the database costs millions of dollars and has no demonstrated public health benefit. This amendment did not pass.

You can sign up for email alerts on newly introduced Colorado legislation regarding vaccines at NVIC Advocacy Portal .