House Bill 14-1288
For several years, personal belief exemption (PBE)—or the ability for parents to opt out their infants and children from immunizations required for childcare and school attendance based on a philosophical belief—has remained an important policy priority for Immunize Colorado. Despite evidence that vaccines are safe and effective, Colorado has among the highest rates of PBEs in the nation. Colorado has also seen a resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases, such as pertussis (whooping cough), varicella (chicken pox), and influenza (flu). In response, we participated in an extensive stakeholder process, led by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), which culminated in a series of six recommendations to strengthen Colorado’s personal belief exemption process.
These recommendations led to the introduction of HB 14-1288 in the Colorado General Assembly in 2014. While HB 14-1288 was amended before being signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper at a May 21, 2014 ceremony, Immunize Colorado and over 50 organizations garnered bi-partisan support for the passage of the bill in both chambers of the Legislature.
The key components of the new law, which took effect July 1, 2014, include:
- Requiring licensed childcare centers and schools to publicly disclose, upon request, their immunization and exemption rates
- Requiring the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to assist school districts in the analysis and interpretation of the immunization data collected
- Requiring the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to create an online education module on the benefits and risks of vaccines
- Directing the State Board of Health to promulgate rules regarding the requirements related to the frequency of a submitting a personal belief exemption certificate
- Establishing a joint policy on immunization data collection and information sharing between the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and other state agencies
Senate Bill 13-222
In 2013, Immunize Colorado led the passage of SB 13-222: Concerning Improving Access to Childhood Immunizations. SB 13-222 directed CDPHE to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders, the Vaccine Access Task Force, to examine the current vaccine financing and delivery system and make recommendations for a more efficient and cost-effective approach. Task Force members worked for nine months to reach consensus on a set of recommendations, capturing what they see as the collective priorities for the state, which were presented to CDPHE in June 2013.